South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu



July 1950

While this untoward incident was taking place in their rear, other elements of the 1st Cavalry Division held their defensive positions east of Yongdong.  The 7th Regiment of the N.K. 3d Division, meanwhile, started southwest from Yongdong on the Muju road in a sweeping flank movement through Chirye against Kumch’on, twenty air miles east-ward.  That night, elements of the enemy division in Yongdong attacked the 1st Cavalry troops east of the town.  Four enemy tanks and an infantry force started this action by driving several hundred refugees ahead of them through American mine fields.  Before daybreak the 1st Cavalry Division had repulsed the attack.  [56]


August 1950

The main line railroad bridges and the highway bridge across the Naktong at Waegwan were to be blown as soon as all units of the 1st Cavalry Division had crossed.  These bridges were the most important on the river.  General Gay, in arranging for their destruction, gave orders that no one but himself could order the bridges blown.  At dusk on 3 August, thousands of refugees crowded up to the bridges on the west side of the river, and repeatedly, as the rear guard of the 8th Cavalry would start across the bridge, the mass of refugees would follow.  The division commander ordered the rear guard to return to the west side and hold back the refugees.  When all was ready the troops were to run across to the east side so that the bridge could be blown.  This plan was tried several times, but in each instance the refugees were on the heels of the rear guard.  Finally, when it was nearly dark, General Gay, feeling that he had no alternative, gave the order to blow the bridge.  It was a hard decision to make, for hundreds of refugees were lost when the bridge was demolished.  [15]




General Church was to remove to the north bank, and destroy as he deemed advisable, all boats and ferries, and to prepare all bridges for demolition and blow them at his discretion.  At this time, Eighth Army planned for the 9th and 23d Regiments of the 2d Infantry Division to relieve the 24th Division in its sector of the line the night of 8 August, but events were to make this impossible. 


The refugee problem was a constant source of trouble and danger to the U.N. Command during the early part of the war.  During the middle two weeks of July it was estimated that about 380,000 refugees had crossed into ROK-held territory, and that this number was increasing at the rate of 25,000 daily.  The refugees were most numerous in the areas of enemy advance.  – Appleman’s Book