To The Last Round - The Epic British Stand on the Imjin River, Korea 1951

product code 740

category Books -> Regimental

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Nearly sixty years after the event, the defence of the Imjin River in April 1951 still remains the most desperate and costly battle fought by British soldiers since the Second World War.

In April 1951 the Korean War hung in the balance. The Chinese, who had entered the war the previous autumn and swept all before them as they advanced southwards, had finally been halted by the UN forces which held a shaky front north of the South Korean capital, Seoul. On the Imjin River, the critical hinge in the line was manned by the British 29th Infantry Brigade – consisting of one battalion each of the Gloucestershire Regiment, the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers and the Royal Ulster Rifles – supported by a regiment of artillery, the tanks of the 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars and a crack battalion of Belgian volunteers.

Then, on the night of 22 April, the largest communist offensive of the Korean War was unleashed. An entire Chinese army assaulted 29th Brigade’s scattered strongpoints.

One by one, the British units were swamped in the ‘human waves’ of attacking Chinese. For three days hand-to-hand combat raged. At one stage the artillery was firing point-blank, over open sights. Against all odds, 29th Brigade held, but by the third morning it was cut off. The order was given to break out. In a death ride down a valley swarming with enemy, the infantry and tanks battled south. But for one battalion, it was too late. Surrounded on a smoking hilltop, the Glosters fought until their ammunition was exhausted. Of 750 men, less than 50 escaped the trap.

The author has interviewed veterans of every unit engaged, to produce an hour-by-hour account of the action as they experienced it in their foxholes. The story of the battle itself is preceded by the actions of 29th Brigade in the horrific winter of 1950/51 and folllowed by first-hand accounts of the two-and-a half years British POWs spent in grim prison camps in North Korea.

Dramatic, traumatic, moving and inspirational, this is the true story of the band of men who remained at their posts, held an army and astonished the world.