Title: James Alward Van Fleet collection
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Title: James Alward Van Fleet collection
Physical Description: Archival
Language: English
Copyright Date: 1950
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Bibliographic ID: UF00096226
Volume ID: VID00014
Source Institution: University of Florida
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WAR IN ASIA


BATTLE OF KOREA
Second Push Ahead
"The Chinaman has gone north for a
while to think it over," said a front-line
commander last week. After their massive
attack had been broken, the Chinese Reds
had not only stopped, but recoiled. In-
stead of leapfrogging fresh units into the
battle, they pulled back out of U.N. artil-
lery range to regroup and catch their
breath. It was surprising to some U.N.
officers in Korea that the Chinese needed
so much time to launch the second surge
of their offensive.
The U.N. forces did not sit back and
wait for the next. blow. They sent out
patrols and powerful armored forces to
seek out and harry the enemy, disrupt his
buildup. In the center, the U.N. forces
actually pushed their main line forward
several thousand yards, to give the scout-
ing and harassing parties a more favor-
able advance base.
An Eighth Army officer took pains to
deny that the Eighth had assumed the
offensive: "This is not a general advance,
we're just sparring for an opening."
The first powerful northward thrust of
the U.N. forces last week was a tank bat-
talion-45 big Pattons-dispatched to-
ward Uijongbu, eleven miles north of
allied-held Seoul. Its stated task: to "seek
out and destroy the enemy." Its purpose
was, at least in part, to deny the town,
almost leveled after ten months of see-
saw war, to the Reds as an assembly point
and staging base.
Lieut. Colonel Wilson Hawkins of Pas-
cagoula, Miss. commanded the battalion
from a grasshopper observation plane
skimming overhead. The Pattons, each
with a snarling tiger painted on the front,
rumbled north out of a dry riverbed.
Just short of Uijongbu, the column ran
into trouble. Trying to bypass a tank trap,
one Patton bogged down in a marshy
field. Two more got stuck trying to pull
it out. A fourth hit a mine; there was a
deafening blast, a big puff of smoke and
a cry over the radio: "Man wounded!"
From nearby hills, the Chinese opened
up with rifles, burp guns and mortars.
Aided by air strikes and artillery from
the rear, the tanks lashed the ridges with
their machine guns and 90o-mm. cannon.
Meanwhile the crews were trying to get
out the mired tanks. One came free with
a loud, sighing whoosh, and a retriever
hauled the mine-damaged tank to the rear.
As dusk approached and the Chinese
did not let up, Hawkins from his plane
ordered the battalion to strip and aban-
don the two tanks that were still stuck,
and start back. As the column headed
south, Chinese jumped out of foxholes
and attacked the U.S. armor on foot.
Some 30 Chinese were killed.
The next day the mired tanks were re-
trieved. And the day after, a U.S. ar-
mored force pushed into Uijongbu against
only light opposition.

TIME, MAY 14, 1951


COMMAND
The Face Is Familiar
(See Cover)
When Lieut. General James Alward Van
Fleet arrived in Korea last month to take
charge of the Eighth Army, he remarked
professionally: "This looks like a good
place to fight." Korea is not much like the
plains of northern France, where he won
his first fame as a combat commander; it
is more like mountainous Greece, where as
U.S. "adviser" to the Greek army he
licked the Red guerrillas. But it is like
both in that it is a hard-fought battle-
field; and that, as the Army discovered
rather late in Van Fleet's career, is the
kind of place where he can make the
most of an extraordinary talent as a troop
commander.
In Greece, as in Korea, the enemy
struck from a sanctuary to the north. In


Greece, the Red forces could escape
across the frontier to Russian satellites to
rest, regroup and get new supplies; in
Korea, the Chinese Reds are using Man-
churia in the same way. In Korea, Van
Fleet is picking up where he left off in
Greece--fighting other, much more nu-
merous enemy contingents in the same
global conflict. The enemy face is now
Mongolian instead of Mediterranean-but
it is familiar.
.When Matt Ridgway took up his new
jobs in Tokyo, he said'to Van Fleet: "I
won't get in your hair, Van." But Van
Fleet is carrying on Ridgway's strategy-
to save the maximum allied lives by ma-
neuver, to kill the maximum enemy troops
by massed firepower. Last week, in the lull
that followed the abortive and costly first
phase of the enemy offensive, he told his
troops that they had won a "great vic-
tory." But he warned them that the Com-








munists could still strike another hard
blow.
Commander at Work. Van Fleet, who
got word of his new job while he was on
leave at his brother's Florida orange grove,
took over his new command at a few
hours' notice; but he quickly sized up the
Eighth Army and its strategic and tactical
situation. Last week, while conferring with
a regimental commander on the battle-
front, Van Fleet pointed with his big fore-
finger to a terrain feature on the map. "Is
your second battalion still in this posi-
tion?" he asked the colonel. The officer
looked astonished at the Armny coinrrnnd-
er's detailed knowledge, then grinned.
"Yes, sir," he said, "it still is."
When Commander in Chief Ridgway
(with whom Van Fleet had fought side by
side in France) arrived last week for a
tour of the front, the two three-star gen-


where he left it the night before. His office
is a bare converted schoolroom, with a
faded red and blue rug and a thicket of
tactical maps.
Commander's Rise. Van Fleet, at 59,
has the lithe, easy movements of a star
footballer, which he once was. He is not
the swaggering type of general, but his big
frame exudes power and confidence; that,
and kindliness, are his ways of getting
what he wants.
His public manner is abrupt; he is at his
best in informal talk. In Korea, he made
an immediately favorable impression on
his division commanders. Said one: "With
me, they're all sons of bitches until they
prove themselves otherwise. I've rarely
met an Army commander who impressed
me as much as Van Fleet on first meeting.
Those blue eyes look right at you."
Van Fleet's trademark is a .45 pistol


GENERALS RIDGWAY, VAN FLEET & MILBURN AT THE FRONT*
Like G.I.s scrounging chickens.


erals boarded Ridgway's C-54 at Eighth
Army headquarters at Taegu and flew
north. They landed first near I Corps
headquarters of Lieut. General Frank
("Shrimp") Milburn. The three of them
piled into a jeep, looking from the rear
like three G.I.s out to scrounge chickens.
Then Ridgway and Van Fleet transferred
to light liaison planes, in four hours cov-
ered most of the Korean front, talked to
eight division and corps commanders.
Back in Taegu, they had a quick chat with
President Syngman Rhee. Then Ridgway
flew off to Tokyo and Van Fleet went back
to his office. A backbreaking round of staff
conferences, briefings, paper work and in-
terviews with VIPs and correspondents
awaited him.
In Taegu, Van Fleet lives in a one-story
grey stucco house which the late Walton
Walker and Ridgway occupied before him.
He gets up at 5 or earlier, shaves and
drinks coffee (he seldom takes any other
breakfast). Then he attacks his paper work


with an ivory handle; otherwise he
dresses plainly. Last fortnight, during con-
stant tours of the front, he got soaked
to the skin in an open jeep, spent one
night in a tent, once made his pilot fly in
weather so bad that his aide's pilot refused
to fly (and the aide followed in a jeep).
Born in New Jersey, raised in Florida,
he 'was a topnotch fullback at West Point,
taught R.O.T.C. and (while he was an in-
structor in military science and tactics)
successfully coached football at the Uni-
versity of Florida. In 1944, when many of
his West Point classmates-including
Omar Bradley and Dwight Eisenhower-
had won general's stars, Van Fleet was
still a chicken colonel commanding a regi-
ment. His superiors had recommended
him for a star, but General George Mar-
shall (then Army Chief of Staff) had
tossed the recommendation in the waste-
* 'Left (back to camera): Brigadier General
Kong Moon Bong, commander of the ist R.O.K.
Division.


basket. Marshall, notoriously inexact in
his memory of proper names, was confus-
ing Van Fleet with another colonel, who
was a heavy drinker. Marshall heatedly
declared that he did not want drunken
generals, refusing promotion to Van Fleet.
Special irony; Van Fleet is a teetotaler.
"I'll Take Van Fleet." In the spring of
1944, a few weeks before D-day, General
J. Lawton Collins (now Army Chief of
Staff), who was then commanding the VII
Corps, roamed the English countryside
looking for a crack assault regiment to
spearhead the invasion of Utah Beach. He
found what he was looking for in an outfit
in which he had served as a youngster in
Germany in 1919; it was the 8th Regiment
of the 4th Infantry Division, and it was
commanded by Colonel Van Fleet, who
was already a grey-haired 52.
Storming ashore with big, burly Van
Fleet at its head, the 8th did well on D-day
at Utah Beach. In the early phase of the
Normandy fighting, Matt Ridgway's 82nd
Airborne Division was in trouble with Ger-
man armored counterattacks near Sainte-
M&re-Eglise. "I jumped in my car," Col-
lins recalls, "and headed up toward Van
Fleet's command post. When I got there,
I found him urging his men rapidly up to
cut off the German counterattack on Ridg-
way. He had things well in hand, had seen
Ridgway personally, and knew all about
the tactical situation He was fighting his
regiment up to the hilt."
The German attack was beaten back.
-Collins phoned General Bradley, com-
mander of the U.S. First Army: "Brad,
I'll take Van Fleet as a division com-
mander right now." In six months Van
Fleet was a major general, commanding
the 90oth Division, in eight moriths a corps
commander himself. After the war, Gen-
eral Eisenhower called Van Fleet's battle
record the best of "any regimental, divi-
sion or corps commander we produced."
"We're Lucky to Have Him." Early
in 1948, after tours of adniini-tration duty
in the U.S. and Germany, Van Fleet ar-
rived in Athens to take command of
JUSMAPG (Joint U.S. Military jnd Plj,-
ning Group) in Greece. Some diplomats
and diplomacy-minded generals' in Wash-
ington feared that Van Fleet's* simplicity
and candor would make him a bull-in-the-
china-shop among the proud, sensitive
Greeks. What the Greeks needed was just
someone to smash some china-and break
the paralysis of their army. Van Fleet did
just that, and they liked him for it. He
became a popular hero to Greeks, who af-
fectionately nicknamed him "Van Flit."*
Soldier Van Fleet got General Alexander
Papagos, a fine soldier, appointed com-
* Last Sunday, the Greek Orthodox Easter, the
general visited the Greek battalion in Korea,
who welcomed him as a vividly remembered
friend. He remembered some of them, too. After
the inspection, he went to a table 'where Metaxa
Brandy and red-dyed Easter eggs were set. It is
an Orthodox custom for two friends each to take
an egg and strike them together; he whose egg
remains unbroken is supposed to he the better
man. Van Fleet tried this with the Greek com-
mander, and there was much good-natured guf-
fawing when the American's egg cracked.
TIME, MAY 14, 1951







mander in chief, persuaded the Greeks
to seize the initiative, and got after the
rebels in their lairs. By the end of
1949, the guerrillas were reduced to 3,000
effective, announced that they were
"suspending operations." Says General
Collins: "I think Van Fleet saved Greece.
We're lucky to have someone like him
for Korea."
When the Chief of Staff summoned him
to his Korean command, Van Fleet was
in command of the Second Army at Fort
George G. Meade, Md., where he lived
a quiet life with his wife Helen. His three
children are "service"--his son is in the
Air Force and his two daughters are mar-
ried to Army officers-and he has seven
grandchildren. (His major diversion after
he left Greece was a lion-hunting safari
in Africa with his son James. Van Fleet
bagged one lion, his son two. When a
rhinoceros appeared, which the Van Fleets
had no license to shoot, they climbed
a tree.)
Elusive Victory. Last week, after three
weeks on the new job, Van Fleet summed
up his impressions of the enemy: "They
have gained much of their strength through
fear and propaganda, and they have a com-
plete or almost complete disregard for
their losses in lives. I suppose that here, as
in Greece, they maintain the same tight
control, the same iron discipline, down to
the smallest unit. I suspect that here, too,
they kill those of their wounded whom
they cannot evacuate. We do not throw
lives away. But when we get the enemy
as we have him now, where we can meet
him and use our characteristics, our fire-
power, our supply and communications
and mobility, the Chinese Communist
hasn't got a chance."
In Korea last week, the weather was
warm, the sky was blue, the fields were
sprouting freslh green. During the lull in
the fighting, G.I. laundry hung on the


.4

af


J. G. Zimmerman
HELEN VAN FLEET & GRANDCHILDREN
The children are "service."


KOREAN REFUGEES & CHILDREN
On May Day, flowers from caves.


barrels of tank guns; some soldiers went
,,aimmjrng in the Han. In spite of their
high spirits and their confidence in them-
selves and their commander, the troops
were homesick. Despite his optimism, the
Eighth Army's -Commander Van Fleet
could not promise them a decisive victory
that vould send them home soon-not
until someone persuaded Washington, as
he had persuaded the Greeks, to seize the
initiative, to take the offensive, to go
after the Communists in their lairs.

THE AIR WAR
The Navy in the Hills
The advancing Reds had closed the
floodgates of the huge Hwachon Dam
just above the 38th parallel. Result: the
level of the Pukhan River, which is fed by
the Hwachon Reservoir, fell sharply, de-
priving retreating U.N. troops of a valu-
able defensive barrier. Last week the U.S.
Army asked the U.S. Navy to do some-
thing about it.
From the deck of the carrier Princeton,
cruising in the Sea of Japan, rose a flight
of Douglas Sk.vraiders. When they got to
the dam and tried to blow it up, they
found that their bombs were as futile as
BB guns against the concrete structure-
900 ft. long, 275 ft. high, 20 ft. thick.
Aboard the Princeton that night there
were set jaws, much work and little sleep.
The crews rummaged deep in the hull,
came up with eight i,ooo-lb. torpedoes,
fitted them laboriously to the Skyraiders.
Next morning eight torpedo-bearing
Sk% raiders came in to the dam on a wide
arc, flying low between the mountains,
ready for a quick run and a sharp pull-
out. The first two planes dropped their
torpedoes in close parallel, blowing out
completely a central floodgate. Four other
Skyraiders dropped torpedoes; one of
them tore a ten-foot hole in a second
floodgate. Water poured out of the


dam; minutes later, the Pukhan began to
rise. From the U.S. Army to the U.S.
Navy-which had never before used tor-
pedoes on inland targets-went an enthu-
siastic "Well done."

THE ALLIES
Children's Day
Some 30 years ago, in the day: of Jap-
anese rule, the elders of Korea saw no
hope of freedom for themselves. But their
children, they felt, might be more fortu-
nate. They began to observe May 5 as
Children'- Day. Last week battered Seoul
celebrated Children's Day with a parade
by the police, who marched 6oo strong
behind a brass band and a huge placard:
"Children Are the Nation's Flo,,er."
The nation's flowers emerged from
caves and broker building. Beside the
budding, shrapnel-c.arred elms along the
streets, they watched. Now & then a
youngster clapped or smiled, but mostly
they stood with wooden faces, like tired
old people who have found life very hard
and who take little joy in parades.
The brass band avoided the mortar-
crumpled south gate and the shattered
railway station where, on Children's Day
as on all other days, the abandoned, the
homeless, the orphan_; prowled re-tlel'.,
begging, stealing. connijing to -tay alive.
They screamed "chop-chop" (food) at
G.I.s, hovered hungrily around the soldiers
who uncomfortably ate their rations.
In Seoul's City Hall plaza meanwhile,
there v ere polite speeches. A select group
of ioo boys & girls cheered and clapped on
signal. The policemen handed out small
packets of candy and food and the chil-
dren sang and played for a while on the
ragged lawns. Before sundown the party
broke up. Parents took their children on
the long walk home. The children who
had no parents to take them home melted
back into their caves and cellars.


TIME, MAY 14,- 1951








FOREIGN NEWS


GREAT BRITAIN
Joyful for a Season
-On MAlay Day, 1851, in a glistening pal-
ace of glass and iron the like of which the
world had never seen before, Queen Vic-
toria opened London's Great Exhibition,
in the hope that its example might "unite
the industry of all the nations of the
earth." Britannia rode the crest of the
wave. As cannons roared a royal salute,
thousands of visitors thronged the Crystal
Palace to gape at its ,,nders-the indus-
trial triumphs of the steam age, as well as
a chhaipagne made from rhubarb, a knife
with 300 blades, and the original Turkish
towel (which so pleased Britain'. Queen
that -he ordered six dozr. i.
-G:d t' les my dearest counrtr. wrote
Victoria in her diary that night, "v.hich
has shown itself so great today."
Last week, a fateful century later, Brit-
ain opened another exhibition. Britain's
greatness had become constricted; her
riches were dwindling; her military and
commercial power, like the steam that
drove her once-cuom-ianding machines,
had been Jearsomely diminished. Her
sense of high adventure was no more.. Yet
in the Festival of Britain she was, in the
words of the Archbi-h:p of Canterbury,


"determined to be joyful for a season."
The Festival opened amid ancient pag-
eantry that had not changed since long
before Victoria's day. A huge bonfire
blazed in London, to signal the lighting of
2,000 others throughout Britain. A crowd
of 3,000 spectators jammed the new
$6,oo0,ooo Thame---ide Royal Festival
Hall to get the party going. Other Lon-
doners by the thousands mingled with vis-
itors from overseas to throng the huge,
futuristic main exhibition site at South
Bank, northwest of dingy Waterloo Sta-
tion. There %,here bombed-out slums once
spr.w'.led. they could goggle at the vast
"-Dome ,f Discovery," with its 74-inch-
lens tele-cope, at the "Telekinen',a with
its three-dimnensional sound piciure-. and
the "Eccentric'." Corner Ieaturing among,
other achievements, hammer guaranteed
not to hit the user's thumb. Still in store
for .'i-tors. this -unmmer: a series of indus-
trial ex'hibitions, midways, art exhibits,
concert, carnival and conventions in
more than 1,7oo British cities and towns.
"All of us," said King George as he
opened the Festival "can paint the con-
trast between the calm security of the Vic-
torian age and the hard experience of our
own. [Yet] I see this Festival j.- a symbol
of Britain's abiding courage and '.italit."


What Price Bevan?
When the suggestion first came up in a
cabinet meeting that the government
ought to collect half the price of dentures
and eyeglasses from the beneficiaries, at a
saving of 25 million a year, Nye Bevan
shouted: "I am worth more than 25 mil-
lion to the Labor Party.".
But he asn't. Last week the bill pro-
viding for the denture and eyeglass
charges went -before the House of Com-
mons. Bevan's followers fought it hard.
When Tories criticized the National
Health Service for being so extravagant as
to provide free treatment even for for-
eigners in Britain, Bevan indignantly cited
a I4th Century monk who "was captured
by Barbary pirates and taken to Arabia as
a prisoner. He fell sick, was in the hospital
for six months, and was treated entirely
free .. The infidels of Arabia were more
Christian than the Tory party . ."
The House of Commons nevertheless
voted for the government bill (but decided
to keep free medical treatment for for-
eigners4. It was a precarious vote. Bevan
and 30 of his followers abstained; three
Labor left-wingers voted against the gov-
ernment. The Tries in a body voted for
the government.
Business with the Enemy
Defense Minister Emanuel Shinwell
told the House of Commons last week how
gallantly the men of Britain's Gloucester-
shire Regiment had died in Korea (TIME,
May 7). Up rose M.P. Raymond Black-
burn. independent ex-Laborite, with a sear-
ing question: \\ hby had Britain supplied
Red China with thousands of tons of iron
& steel, vehicles, aircraft parts, rubber?
Wasn't it "high time we ceased to supply
the people against whom our boys are
fighting?"
Caught unprepared, Shinwell sputtered
that Blackburn was -iinaccurate . for
several months now we have placed an
embargo on the export of strategic raw
materials to China." But Blackburn was
not wrong. He harried Shinwell v. ith data
from the government's own Board; of
Trade. Example: British Malaya had 'sold
12o0,00oo tons of rubber to Communist
China and 40.400 tons to Russia in the
first nine month- of the Korean war. Tory
M.P.s joined the clamor by asking if the
U.S. was pressing Britain for a "tighten-
ing-up" of the trade mith the enemy.
Shjnell, in the past a vociferous critic
of the U.S.. suddenly appeared as a cham-
pion of U.S.-British friendship. Said he:
"I do not think these questions are calcu-
lated to maintain the good relations be-
tween the U.S. and this country.' The
opposition shouted: "Resign' Resign!"
W\'in-ton Churchill scornfully rasped:
"You do not know anything about it at
all." Shinwell snapped back: "I know
more about it than you do."
Next day, pale, tight-lipped Prime Min-
ister Clement Attlee said: "There has


TIME, MAY 14, 1951


,The Topi 2
KING & QUEEN AT THE 1FSIIVAL OF. BRITAIN
A century earlier, rhubarb champagne, Turkish towels and power.




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