The Battle of Watergate bridge in John Tolan’s The Long Fight

2022-05-29 0 By

Recently, the movie “The Watergate Bridge of Chosin Lake” was released, in which my heroic volunteers destroyed the Bridge three times, and the American army repaired it three times.I looked up John Toland’s “The Long Fight” to see what it said: On December 7, at ten o ‘clock in the morning, one battalion of the 5th Marine — Royce’s 2nd battalion — remained in Hagaru.Finally the battalion was ordered to leave the bombed-out town.Millions of people are praying for those who fled a town americans had never heard of just a week ago.Royce’s 2nd battalion left Hagaru-ri at noon, along with thousands of North Korean refugees who had fled in terror with their families and families.The engineers warned them that Bridges on their way might be blown up.But they are less afraid of the dangers of the journey than of an attack by Chinese and North Korean forces.They encountered only sporadic gunfire before reaching the Valley of Dark Fire.In the valley, several mortar rounds were fired.When the last man entered the Marines’ defensive position at Koutori, the grand first phase of the retreat was over.Three and a half miles south of the ancient clay, however, there was trouble.For the third time, Chinese troops blew up a key bridge on the Puqilin road.The 16-foot-wide gully (24 feet with the piers) had to be crossed, or the artillery-waggons, tanks and artillery could not be removed.Both sides of the cliff are straight and steep, impossible to bypass.The only solution was to drop the steel components for the bridge into the gully and transport them to the mountain pass.A test launch was made in Japan, but the chute did not open.There’s no time to try again.That morning, planes carrying three pieces of 2,500-pound steel for the bridge took off from Japan, safely completing the airdrop.Five more were dropped at noon.One was destroyed, one was taken by the Chinese army and the other six were left intact.And it only took four pieces to build the bridge.Then there was the question of how to get them to the bridge.Heavy snowstorms delayed the retreat from the ancient earth, making it impossible to travel a single day.On December 9, the frozen soldiers of Puller’s 1st regiment cheered as the sun rose.David Douglas-Duncan, a photojournalist for Life magazine, saw a soldier trying to scoop a frozen bean out of a can with a spoon but failing to get it out.The cold had deeply damaged his eyes, which were blind.He dug out the bean at last, fed it slowly into his mouth, and stood up, motionless, waiting for it to melt.’If it was Christmas, and I was God,’ Duncan said to him, ‘what would you want?’The soldier pondered his words for a moment, then looked up at the gray sky and said;”Give me tomorrow.”Not far away, two of Colonel Poole’s companies were taking up the ground above the side of the broken bridge.John Partridge, who was transporting the bridge components, directed the trucks to pass, one after the other.On the way they stopped for a while at the head of a higher slope.Partridge and his engineers followed a snow-clearing bulldozer on foot.We reached the eastern ridge of the bridge without any trouble.Nearby came the sound of enemy small arms and mortars.The shot was fired from a lookout point on the hill.The infantry soon routed the Chinese troops there.Partridge scanned the gap.The arch at the south end of the bridge was blown off, adding five feet to the damaged section of the bridge deck, bringing the gap to about 29 feet wide.But Partridge didn’t mind. Wider was fine.They set to work shortly after noon.They sent about 60 prisoners of war to carry steel and railway ties down from trucks.It was a fine day, sunny and full of American planes.At 3:30 p.m., the broken bridge was repaired.Partridge reached the top of the hill in a jeep and announced that the division’s convoy was ready to go.But the convoy isn’t ready to go yet.He came back to the bridge. It was five o ‘clock in the afternoon and it was getting dark.Just before six o ‘clock, the first convoy arrived at the bridge.Partridge got into a jeep and shared the joy of galloping down the hill.When no car followed, Partridge walked back to the bridge and saw an accident.A tractor crossing a rutted bridge with its tracks on one side fell into a pressurized plank in the middle of the rail and smashed it.Technical Sergeant Wilfred Plosser expertly managed to get the tractor out of the bridge, but Partridge had a problem: the pressure planks in the middle for rubberized vehicles had been smashed, and the bridge rails, each weighing about three tons, were now in a position where rubberized vehicles could not travel.Partridge was dismayed at first, but soon remembered that if he had put the two rails as close together as possible, they would have made their total width 136 inches.With the help of manpower and a bulldozer, they rebuilt the rutted bridge so that there was two inches for tanks on the outer edge and an inch and a half for jeeps on the inside.Moments later, the first jeep crossed the bridge, its tires just touching the rails on either side.It passes.Then trucks and tanks, one by one, passed safely, guided by the lights of engineers.The troops made their way, pausing, over roadblocks and then slowly down the steep mountain path that dropped 4,500 feet down the coastal plain.The convoy was led by engineer wagons, followed by Partridge’s foot party.As he cleared the second barrier, Partridge heard mortars and grenades exploding into the hills.He was worried about the engineers ahead, but when they entered the position held by Poole’s 1st battalion, they greeted them warmly.”Don’t worry, buddy,” a sergeant from 1st Battalion told them. “You’re safe.Everything is going well.You’ll get through this alive.”All night long, vehicles and horses streamed past the rutted bridge.Partridge later reported: “It was a very strange atmosphere that night. Everything seemed to be shining, visibility was good though there were no lights, there was a lot of sound of shells being fired: there was a noise of feet and wheels of vehicles stamping on the crisp snow.On one side of the convoy were large numbers of North Korean refugees, and on the other were marines on foot.From time to time, baby cries could be heard from the crowd.There were some livestock on the road.It all adds to an atmosphere of relaxation or longing for relief.”