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Monday, April 23, 2012

How 900 Filipino Soldiers Fought 40T Chinese Troops And Won

Should armed confrontation happen (God forbid!) between the Philippines and China over the Spratly's, Scarborough Shoal and other disputed islands, it would not be the first time these two armed forces would face each other in combat.

Exactly 61 years ago, from April 22-23, 1951, 900 Filipino soldiers of the 10th Battalion Combat Team (10th BCT) of the Philippine Expeditionary Force To Korea (PEFTOK) successfully defended and threw back the numerically superior elements of the Chinese People's Volunteer Army (CPVA)'s 44th Infantry Division and the North Korean People's Army (NKPA) numbering about 40,000 in non-stop fighting that drew widespread admiration --- even from the enemy.

10th BCT Soldier (source: http://theunknowngazette.blogspot.com/)


Why this monumental victory and the noble heroism of our fathers who fought and gave up their lives to stop Korea from being overrun by communism isn't taught in schools or written extensively in our history booksstill behooves me. Personally, I think it's a great travesty. 

A bigger insult is the fact that we don't even see any statues erected to honor these brave men in every major city of the country and the names of Capt. Conrado Yap, LTC Ojeda or Lt. Artiaga totally unknown to our youth. 

But I am getting ahead of the story.

900 versus 40,000 

The Battle of Yuldong was actually considered a minor battle when compared to the overall scheme of things. The encounter was a part of the first Chinese Spring Offensive where 700,000 men of the CPV & NKPA attacked the United Nations coalition forces led by the United States.

During that battle, the CPVA & NKPA used overwhelming numbers backed with strong artillery fire to overrun by midday, various battalions of the US Army, the Puerto Rican Brigade, a battalion of the British Gloucestershire Regiment, a Turkish battalion, a Republic of Korea (ROK) division and other international units.

CPVA propaganda poster (source: wikipedia.com)
The initial night assault (favored by the Chinese) were human waves of CPVA & NKPA troops rushing towards the Filipino positions. The enemy attackers were mowed down by machine gun fire as well as by the 10th BCT's mortars and howitzers. So thorough was the killing that not a few Filpino officers wept in pity over their fallen enemy. After all, the Reds (communists) were human beings too.

Despite the failure of the initial assault, the Chinese & NKPA continued their attacks. The 10th BCT on the other hand put up a stone wall defense that repulsed each and every Chinese-North Korean thrust. 

So outnumbered where the Filipinos (1:17 according to reports) that Col. Ojeda, the 10th BCT commander had to gather up battalion cooks, messengers, drivers and office clerks then sent them to the front line with rifles in hand.

10th BCT howitzers firing at Chinese positions (source: peftok.blogspot.com)
 One Chinese attack came so close to the Filipino battalion headquarters that soldiers were now shooting at each other almost at point blank range and in many cases, combat became a hand-to-hand encounter. Despite these deadly penetratrations done by the enemy, the 10th BCT still firmly held its line.

By noon, April 23, the 10th BCT was the only unit left standing its ground, a virtual island surrounded by a sea of communist troops as its fellow UN combat units were either decimated or forced to withdraw. 

Despite this situation, the Filipinos even launched their own counterattack that sent the bewildered Chinese troops running back to their original lines. It was said that the US Army Division Headquarters (where the 10th BCT was attached) radioed repeated orders to retreat but the Filipinos firmly refused to move until all the other UN military units have retreated to the safe zones.

By the end of the battle, the Filipinos suffered 10 killed, 26 wounded and 14 missing in action. The CVA & NKPA losses ranged from about 500 to close to a thousand casualties.

Nobility& Heroism

The story of the Battle of Yuldong wouldn't be complete without mentioning the gallantry and nobility of the Filipino soldier

Captain Conrado Yap - After leading the successful counterattack against the Chinese, he died in a hail of machine gunfire after he went forward to retrieve the body of his best friend, Lt. Artiaga. 

Lt. Artiaga - Led his outnumbered platoon to drive back numerous assaults by the CPVA.

Colonel Ojeda - Commander of the 10th BCT for steadily leading his men despite the 1:17 odds. The 10th BCT has earned the respect and admiration of the entire world with unit being dubbed as The Fighting Filipinos.

The men who comprised the PEFTOK units

Memorial to the Filipino soldier in South Korea. Inscription reads: "Warriors of the constellation of the three stars who had the spirit of passion like the bright and burning sun! There will be divine protection for these 112 soldiers' souls who died fighting for peace and freedom in Korea." (source: timawa.net)
Looking Back Today

Today's world is very much different but the scenarios are much the same. The Philippines is no longer defending a foreign country from communism but it's now finding itself clutching at the straws just to defend its own territory. 

Short of resources, modern weaponry and equipment, the Philippine armed forces nevertheless has to summon whatever strength and courage it has left to perform its duty as the protector of the country's people and seas.

Against the Chinese, the odds are indeed huge and it is hoped that armed conflict will never happen. Diplomacy is still the best way to resolve the issue. However, it would be best during these circumstances to remember the words of John F. Kennedy: "Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.

 Notes on sources:

Much of the material for this post came from journalist Art Villasanta's The Philippine Expeditionary Force To Korea (PEFTOK) blog. Mr. Johnny F. Villasanta's father was war correspondent who covered the Korea War from 1950 to 1955 and his book, “Dateline Korea: Stories of the Philippine Battalion,” published in 1954. 

Aside from Villasanta's blog and book, the United Nations and the US Army also has extensive records of the battle as well as the official awarding (posthumous) of the Distinguished Service Cross Medals to Capt. Conrado Yap 

To read more detailed narrative of the exploits of the 10th BCT and other PEFTOK Battalions including the dramatic Battle of Eerie Hill (led by a young West Pointer named Fidel V. Ramos), please visit the Art Villasanta's PEFTOK blog

11 comments:

  1. As it was, along the Paranaque coast of Manila, Filipinas, Limahong- the Chinese invaders scampered away back to the sea as they were repulsed by the Natives defenders; then again at the defense of Bataan during WW2, the Filipino soldiers gave the Japanese Imperial Army a big headache resulting to the suicide of JIA generals who failed to get Bataan, resulting to the delay of their conquest of Australia and New Zealand; then again at The Battle of Yuldong at South Korea, the greatly outnumbered 10th BCT of the Philippine army defeated the Chinese and North Korean Communists. And, this time we will be tested once again, now by these greedy Chinese Communist thieves. Hear Ye the World! We will be as our forefathers had done before! We are proud Filipinos, We are a fighting race!

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  2. Filipinos soldiers are one of the most experienced fighters in the whole world. They became battle hardened due to numerous internal conflicts within its country's territory. They might be outnumbered but their skill and experience is their greatest weaponry.

    Check some stories about Filipino Soldiers: A Wise Filipino Soldier

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    1. Reminds me of the Spartans. There should be a movie about this.

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  3. Thank you for sharing this Ritchie. A truly remarkable story of our countrymen. I've been reading Flags of Our Fathers, and I can't help but compare the situation of our unsung heroes and those of the marines in Iwo Jima. May you continue to be a medium to younger generations about our history. Mabuhay ka

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  4. One of the best blog to read. One righteous race to defend our seas and motherland!

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  5. I am an elementary grade teacher but I am willing to give my life to get enlist in our own Philippines Armed Forces if ever China would once again dare to attack and capture our lands. I assure this to all nations that it would not be an easy fight, but the Chinese will never receive peace in all their lives until they would gave freedom to all Filipinos.. WE WILL CONTINUE TO FIGHT EVEN IF IT WOULD TAKE SO MANY YEARS AND SO MANY LIVES... WE WILL ALWAYS GIVE HEADACHE TO ALL CHINESE THEY DESERVED FOR GRABBING OUR LANDS AND FREEDOM OF OUR PEOPLE.

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  6. Today, April 9, is a holy day for Filipino courage: Araw ng Kagitingan. Many of the officers and men who fought under the PEFTOK flag first fought against the Japanese, either as soldiers of the Commonwealth Army or as guerillas.

    I've created two blogs in honor of the great Filipino guerilla:

    Victorious: the saga of the Philippines and her guerillas in the Second World War at http://victoriousfilipinos.blogspot.com/

    and

    The Filipino Nation-in-Arms and its defeat of the Empire of Japan in World War II at http://filipinonationinarms.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-philippines-was-grave-of-dai-nippon.html.

    I'm glad you liked my blog about PEFTOK and the Philippines' role in the Korean War.

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  7. Very Informative, our youth should know this instead of Meteor Garden.

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  8. Our race across the archipelago are refugees from many lands of Asia,now that we are all once united under one nation created by our European foreign invaders. Let us firm to unite ourselves under the Filipino race but let us not let some foreign invader still invade our unity and country, let us not waste the blood of our ancestors effort of waging war against many foreign odds.Hoping for our islands to be a strong country, we must first search for a strong governance and I too would be willing to sacrifice my blood and honor in order to maintain the glory of our seas...

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  9. yes i still remember my late uncle who was a member of 10bct that fought in korea it was Lt ARTURO ATENCIA he is great . . .

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