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8th Infantry Division

Formed early in July 1950 in the Chunchon area from remnants of the 1st Border Constabulary Brigade and elements of the 2d Border Constabulary Brigade. Morale and effectiveness for the unit were believed low in late 1950 probably due to entering combat understrength and with ill-trained recruits. In 1950 the unit was comprised of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Regiments as well as an artillery regiment.

When the 8th Division was activated at Kanghung on about 8 July 1950 from the 1st Border Constabulary Brigade, its organic artillery support consisted of only one artillery battalion in place of the usual divisional artillery regiment. Furthermore, the antitank battalion and self-propelled gun battalion provided for by the T/O and E of the typical North Korean infantry division were both missing from the organizational line-up, The divisional artillery was not brought up to full strength until the middle of July, when two artillery battalions were transferred from the 10th Division; Although the addition of these units brought the divisional artillery up to full personnel strength, artillery weapons still remained far below the authorized amount at the time the division was committed for the first time in the battle for Yech'on.

Of the heavy lossed in artillery personnel and weapons which the inexperienced 8th Division suffered in succeeding engagements at the hands of UN artillery and aircraft, the damage inflicted by an air attack during the battle of Sindok-tong on 9 August was by far the most severe. In that attack the division lost eight 76mm guns, four 122mm howitzors and 12 trucks. A partial compensation occurred soon thereafter, when the unit received six 76mm guns, four 122mm howitzors, four trucks and about 50 replacements.

After firing its last effective supporting mission of the 1950 summer campaign, during the five-day battle of Hwasan-Jong, the divisional artillery became completely disorganized under the impact of the UN counteroffensive. All vehicles and artillery weapons of the division were either buried or simply abandoned through lack of fuel. During its reorganization and retraining phase in the Yandok and Ch'osan Areas, the 8th Division received little artillery equipment and few weapons of heavier calibers, for when it reappeared in the combat zone at Haeju in the latter part of December as part of the North Korean I Corps, it was only equipped, insofar as artillery is concerned, with one 122mm howitzer, one 76m field gun, one 45mm antitank gun and three 82mm mortars.

While committed in the Seoul Sector along thr Imjin River during the spring of 1951m as part of the I Corps, the division sustained considerable personnel casualties and lost a good portion of its scant artillery support including the entire regimental artillery of the 1st Rifle Regiment which was surrounded and completely annihilated on 19 February in the vicinity of Kwangju. Replacements for some of these losses were received prior to the May offensive during which the 8th Division spearhoaded the I Corps assault on Seoul. At that time, according to a captured lieutenant colonel from the division political section, thirteen 82mm mortars; six 12Omm mortars, twelve 45mm antitank guns, ten 76mm field guns and four 122mm howitzers constituted the sum ttal of the artillery weapons at the disposal of the division. Colonel LEE-To-Bin was then the commander of the divisional artillery. Most of these weapons were concentrated at regimental level. In the 3d Regiment, for instance the field artillery battery had a strength of five officers, 13 noncommissioned officers and 52 privates and was equipped with two 76mm field, guns; the regimental mortar company had a strength of fivc officers, 19 noncommissioned officers and 39 privates and was equipped with three or four 12Omm mortars; and the antitank company with a strength of five officers, 14 noncommissioned officers and 28 privates and was armed with four or five 45mm antitank guns. Contrary to normal North Korean practice, all three units had been integrated into an artillery battalion under the command of the regimental artillery officer who was assisted by a staff of five officers and nine noncommissioned officerS. The regimental artillery battalion also includod a command platoon comprised of one officer 9 four honcommissioned officers and 11 privates.

During the May offensive the 8th Division, was badly mauled and forced to abandon a major portion of the available artillery weapons in its disorganized withdrawal. While the division was reorganizing and retraining during June in the vicinity of P'yongsan, artillery units were brought up to full strength through the integration of replacements from replacement regiments which were assigned to the I Corps and its subordinate units on 7 June. But artillery weapons remained scarce and were confined to a few 82mm mortars and antitank rifles in each rifle battalion.

During the latter part of July, while policing the conference site at Kaesong the 8th Division received a resupply of ammunition and a new complement of Soviet weapons and equipment designed to provide it with a full table of equipment. However available reports fail to indicate whether all types and calibers of weapons were included and whether they were actually received in sufficient quantities to allocate to each unit its full equipment allowance. Indeed, one source indicates that only small arms and automatic weapons were issued.

The unit is currently believed to be part of the II Army Corps.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 15:33:08 ZULU