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<< 1949 CE | 1941-1950 CE | >>

§Of World Interest

The estimated population of the World ranges between 2.44 and 2.557 billion people.



On January 31st the last Kuomintang troops surrendered in continental China. The following day, February 1st, Chiang Kai-shek was re-elected as president of the Republic of China.

March 1 - Acting Chinese President Li Tsung-jen ends his term in office.

March 1 - Chiang Kai-shek resumes his duties as Chinese president after moving his government to Taipei, Taiwan.


the North Koreans, equipped with Soviet weaponry, enjoyed substantial advantages over the South in every category of equipment. After another visit by Kim to Moscow in March-April of 1950, Stalin approved an attack.

The North Korean army struck in the pre-dawn hours of Sunday, June 25, 1950, crossing the 38th parallel behind a firestorm of artillery barrage. Equipped by the Soviets with 150 T-34 tanks, the North Koreans began the war with about 180 Russian aircraft, including 40 YAK fighters and 70 attack bombers. The navy was inconsequential. The most serious weakness was its lack of a reliable logistics system for moving supplies south as the army advanced. (In practice, it forced thousands of civilians to hand-carry supplies, while subject to American air attacks.) Nevertheless, the North's attack with about 135,000 troops achieved surprise and quick successes. North Korea attacked many key places including Kaesŏng, Chuncheon, Uijeongbu and Ongjin. Within days South Korean forces, outnumbered and out-gunned, were in full retreat. As the ground attack continued, the North Korean Air Force conducted bombing on Kimpo Airport in Seoul. Seoul was captured by the North Koreans on the afternoon of June 28, but the North Koreans had hoped for quick surrender by the Rhee government and the disintegration of the South Korean Army.

The invasion of South Korea came as a surprise to the United States and the other western powers; in the preceding week Dean Acheson of the State Department had told Congress on June 20 no such war was likely. Contacted hours after the invasion had begun, Truman was convinced the beginning of World War III had arrived.

The South Korean Army had 65,000 soldiers present for duty, and was deficient in armor and artillery. There were no large foreign, including American, combat units in the country when the invasion began, but there were large American forces stationed in nearby Japan.

Despite the post-World War II demobilization of U.S. and allied forces, which caused serious supply problems for American troops in the region (excluding the United States Marines, the infantry divisions sent to Korea were at 40% of paper strength, and the majority of their equipment was found to be useless), The United States still had substantial forces in Japan, under the command of General Douglas MacArthur. Apart from British Commonwealth units, no other nation could supply sizeable manpower. On hearing of the invasion, President Harry S. Truman ordered MacArthur to transfer munitions to the ROK Army, while using air cover to protect evacuation of US citizens. Truman did not agree with his advisors who called for unilateral U.S. airstrikes against the North Korean forces, but did order the Seventh Fleet to protect Taiwan, thereby ending the policy of the United States of acquiescing to the defeat of the forces of Chiang Kai-Shek. The KMT government (now confined to Taiwan) asked to participate in the war, but their request was denied by the Americans who felt they would only encourage Communist Chinese intervention.

The other western powers quickly agreed with American actions volunteering their support for the effort. By August the South Korean forces and the U.S. Eighth Army, which had arrived to help South Korea resist the North Korean attack, were driven into a small area in the southeast corner of the Korean peninsula around the city of Pusan. With the aid of American supplies, air support, and additional reinforcements, the U.S. and ROK forces managed to stabilize a line along the Nakdong River. This desperate holding action became known in the US as the Pusan Perimeter. Although more UN support arrived, the situation was dire for the southern regime and its foreign allies, looking as though the North Koreans could gain control of the entire peninsula.

By August, the ROK forces and newly arrived units of the U.S. Eighth Army were driven back into the southeastern corner of the peninsula, around the port city of Pusan. With the aid of American supplies, naval and air support, and additional reinforcements, the U.S. and ROK forces barely managed to stabilize a line along the Nakdong River. In the face of fierce North Korean attacks, the allied defense became a desperate holding action called the Battle of Pusan Perimeter. The failure of North Korea to capture Pusan doomed its invasion.

American air power arrived in force, flying 40 sorties a day in ground support actions, especially against tanks. Strategic bombers (mostly B-29s based in Japan) closed most rail and road traffic by day, and cut 32 critical bridges. (Trains waited out the daylight hours in tunnels.) The bombers knocked out the main supply dumps in the north, as well as the oil refineries and seaports that handled Russian imports. Naval air power also attacked transportation choke points. The North Korean logistics problems grew severe, with shortages of food and ammunition. The North lost half its invading force and morale was poor.

Meanwhile, supply bases in Japan were pouring weapons and soldiers into Pusan. Tank battalions were rushed in from San Francisco; by late August, the US had over 500 medium tanks in the Pusan perimeter. By early September, UN-ROK forces were vastly stronger and outnumbered the North Koreans by 180,000 to 100,000. At that point, they began their counterattack.

American forces land on Incheon harbor one day after the Battle of Incheon began.In order to alleviate pressure on the Pusan Perimeter, MacArthur, as UN commander-in-chief for Korea, ordered an amphibious invasion far behind the North Korean troops at Incheon. This was an extremely risky operation, but once the American and other UN troops gained a foothold on the beach, it was extremely successful. United Nations troops landed at Incheon, faced only mild resistance and quickly moved to recapture Seoul. The North Koreans, finding their supply lines cut, began a rapid retreat northwards and the ROK and UN forces that had been confined in the south moved north and joined those that had landed at Incheon.

In the face of these reinforcements, the North Koreans found themselves undermanned with weak logistical support, and lacking naval and air support. MacArthur initiated his attack with the landing far behind the North Korean lines at Incheon. MacArthur had started planning a few days after the war began, but had been strongly opposed by the Pentagon. When he finally received permission to go ahead, MacArthur activated X Corps under General Edward Almond (comprised of 70,000 troops of the 1st Marine Division, and the 7th Army division and augmented by 8,600 Korean troops) and ordered them to land at Incheon in "Operation CHROMITE". The landing was a decisive victory, as X Corps rolled over the few defenders and threatened to trap the main North Korean army. MacArthur quickly recaptured Seoul. The North Koreans, almost cut off, rapidly retreated northwards; about 25,000 to 30,000 made it back.

The United Nations troops drove the North Koreans back past the 38th parallel. The goal of saving South Korea had been achieved, but because of the success and the prospect of uniting all of Korea under the government of Syngman Rhee, the Americans - with UN approval - were convinced to continue into North Korea. Other issues included the psychological effects of destroying a Communist nation and the liberation of POWs. This greatly concerned the Chinese, who worried that the UN forces would not stop at the Yalu River, the borderline between the PRK and China. Many in the west, including General MacArthur, thought that spreading the war to China would be necessary. However, Truman and the other leaders disagreed, and MacArthur was ordered to be very cautious when approaching the Chinese border. Eventually, MacArthur disregarded these concerns, arguing that since the North Korean troops were being supplied by bases in China, those supply depots should be bombed. However, except on some rare occasions U.N. bombers remained out of Manchuria during the war.

The People's Republic of China, fearful of a capitalist Korean state on its border, warned neutral diplomats that it would intervene. Truman regarded the warnings as "a bald attempt to blackmail the UN". On October 15, 1950, Truman went to Wake Island for a short, highly publicized meeting with MacArthur. The CIA had previously told Truman that Chinese involvement was unlikely. MacArthur, saying he was speculating, saw little risk. The general explained that the Chinese had lost their window of opportunity to help North Korea's invasion. He estimated the Chinese had 300,000 soldiers in Manchuria, with between 100,000-125,000 men along the Yalu; half could be brought across the Yalu. But the Chinese had no air force; hence, "if the Chinese tried to get down to Pyongyang there would be the greatest slaughter." MacArthur thus assumed that Chinese were motivated to help North Korea, and wished to avoid heavy casualties.

On October 8, 1950, the day after American troops crossed the 38th, Chairman Mao issued the order for the Chinese People's Volunteer Army. It was named in that way, so it won't appear to the world that it was not a state-to-state war between China and the US. Those soldiers "volunteered" to fight. They were actually regulars in the Chinese People's Liberation Army. Mao ordered the army to move to the Yalu River, ready to cross. Mao sought Soviet aid and saw intervention as essentially defensive: "If we allow the U.S. to occupy all of Korea… we must be prepared for the US to declare… war with China", he told Stalin. Premier Zhou Enlai was sent to Moscow to add force to Mao's cabled arguments. Mao delayed his forces while waiting for Russian help, and the planned attack was thus postponed from 13 October to 19 October.

Chinese troops (40th corps, 118th division) in the October 25, 1950 skirmish near the Yalu River A Chinese enlistment status poster during the Korean WarThe Chinese made a skirmish on October 25, with 270,000 PVA troops under the command of General Peng Dehuai, much to the surprise of the UN. However, after these initial engagements, the Chinese forces melted away into the mountains. UN leaders saw the retreat as a sign of weakness, and greatly underestimated the Chinese fighting capability given limited Soviet assistance. The UN forces thus continued their advance to the Yalu river, ignoring stern warnings given by the Chinese to stay away.

Soviet assistance was limited to providing air support no nearer than 100 km (60 miles) from the battlefront. The Russian MiG-15s in PRC colors became a serious threat to the UN pilots. In one area ("MiG Alley"), they held local air superiority against the F-80 Shooting Stars until newer F-86 Sabres were deployed. The Chinese were angry at the limited support, having assumed that the Soviets had promised to provide full scale air support. The Soviet role was known to the U.S. but they kept quiet to avoid any international and potential nuclear incidents.

In late November, the Chinese struck in the west, along the Chongchon River, and completely overran several ROK divisions and landed a heavy blow to the flank of the remaining UN forces. The resulting withdrawal of the U.S. Eighth Army was the longest retreat of any American military unit in history. In the east, at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, a 30,000 man unit from the U.S. 7th Infantry Division were soon surrounded, but eventually fought their way out of the encirclement after suffering over 15,000 casualties. The Marines, although surrounded at the Chosin Reservoir, retreated after inflicting heavy casualties on six attacking Chinese divisions.

Chinese troops at the 38th parallel.The UN forces in northeast Korea quickly withdrew to form a defensive perimeter around the port city of Hungnam, where a major evacuation was being carried out in late December 1950. All together, 193 shiploads of men and material were evacuated from Hungnam Harbor, and about 105,000 soldiers, 98,000 civilians, 17,500 vehicles, and 350,000 tons of supplies were shipped to Pusan in orderly fashion.


February 12 - The European Broadcasting Union is founded.


March 12-March 13 - In Belgium, the referendum over the monarchy shows 57.7% support the return of King Léopold III, 42.3% against.

April 15 - Belgian King Leopold III announces that he is ready to abdicate in favor of his son Baudouin.


February 12 - Pro-communist riots erupt in Paris.


December 3 - Mt. Etna erupts in Sicily.


Pope Pius XII establishes the Marian doctrine that Mary was assumed bodily into heaven.


On January 26th, India promulgated its constitution forming a republic and Rajendra Prasad was sworn in as its first president.

§North America

§United States

January 5 - U.S. Senator Estes Kefauver introduces a resolution calling for an investigation of organized crime in the U.S.

On January 12, 1950 United States Secretary of State Dean Acheson said that America's Pacific defense perimeter was made up of the Aleutians, Ryukyu, Japan, and the Philippines implying that the U.S. might not fight over Korea.

January 17 - Great Brinks Robbery: 11 thieves steal more than $2 million from an armored car in Boston, Massachusetts.

January 31 - President Harry S. Truman orders the development of the hydrogen bomb, in response to the detonation of the Soviet Union's first atomic bomb in 1949.

February 4 - Ingrid Bergman's illegitimate child arouses ire in the U.S.

February 9th, in his speech to the Republican Women's Club at the McClure Hotel in Wheeling, West Virginia, Senator Joseph McCarthy accuses the United States Department of State of being filled with 205 Communists.

February 12 - Albert Einstein warns that nuclear war could lead to mutual destruction.

February 13 - The U.S. Army begins to deploy anti-aircraft cannons to protect nuclear stations and military targets.

February 13 - The U.S. Air Force loses a Convair B-36 bomber that carried an Mk-4 atomic bomb off the west coast of Canada, and produces the world's first Broken Arrow.

May 14 - The Huntsville Times runs the headline, "Dr. von Braun Says Rocket Flights Possible to Moon."

May 25 - The Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel is formally opened to traffic.

November 11 - Harry Hay, along with Gernreich and friends Dale Jennings and partners Bob Hull and Chuck Rowland, held the first meeting of the Mattachine Society in Los Angeles, under the name "Society of Fools". This is considered the first US Gay Rights organization.

§U.S. Religion

May 9 - L. Ron Hubbard publishes Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health.


§Soviet Union

March 8 - The Soviet Union claims to have an atomic bomb.

§Southeast Asia


December 11-December 13 - The Maria Hertogh riots occur in Singapore, leaving 18 dead and 173 injured.


February 11 - Two Viet Minh battalions attack a French base in French Indochina. Giáp seized the vulnerable 150-strong French garrison at Lai Khe in Tonkin just south of the border with China. Then, on May 25, he attacked the garrison of Cao Bang manned by 4,000 French-controlled Vietnamese troops, but his forces were repulsed. Giáp launched his second offense again against Cao Bang as well as Dong Khe on September 15. Dong Khe fell on September 18, and Cao Bang finally fell on October 3. Lang Son, with its 4,000-strong French Foreign Legion garrison, was attacked immediately after. The retreating French on Route 4, together with the relief force coming from That Khe, were attacked all the way by ambushing Việt Minh forces. The French air-dropped a paratroop battalion south of Dong Khe to act as diversion only to see it surrounded and destroyed. On October 17, Lang Son, after a week of intense fighting, finally fell. By the time the remains of the garrisons reached the safety of the Red River Delta, 4,800 French troops had been killed, captured or missing in action and 2,000 wounded out of a total garrison force of over 10,000. Also lost were 13 artillery pieces, 125 mortars, 450 trucks, 940 machine guns, 1,200 submachine guns and 8,000 rifles destroyed or captured during the fighting. China and the Soviet Union recognized Hồ Chí Minh as the legitimate ruler of Vietnam and sent him more and more supplies and material aid. The year 1950 also marked the first time that napalm was ever used in Vietnam (this type of weapon was supplied by the U.S. for the use of the French Aeronovale at the time).

The military situation improved for France when their new commander, General Jean Marie de Lattre de Tassigny, built a fortified line from Hanoi to the Gulf of Tonkin, across the Red River Delta, to hold the Việt Minh in place and use his troops to smash them against this barricade, which became known as the "De Lattre Line". This led to a period of success for the French

§South Pacific

§Hawaiian Islands

June 1 - Mauna Loa in Hawaii starts erupting. Fissures opened up along the Southwest Rift Zone for a distance of over 12 miles. First, floods of liquid lava poured out of the vents and a cloud of fume rose two miles into the air. That activity lasted about four hours. Then, another set of fissures opened up lower on the rift. While activity on the upper portion of the lower fissures lasted a week, the lower portion remained active for about three weeks. A total of seven large lava flows poured out southward and westward. Three of the western flows even reached the ocean. The volume of lava produced (above sea level) by the eruption is estimated at over 376 million m³.

June 23 - Mauna Loa stops erupting.


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Page last modified on May 26, 2017, at 11:12 PM