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Commando Raid on the East Coast Railway - North Korea

Unit/ Formation: 41 Cdo RM

Location: Korea

Period/ Conflict: Korean War

Year: 1951

Date/s: On 2 April 1951

On 2 April 1951, 21 Officers and 256 Marines of 41 Independent Commando embarked in the LPD USS Fort Marion (11 LVT, 5 LVT(A) and 13 LC) and the APD USS Begor (4 LC).

The Gunfire Support Group comprised a cruiser and two destroyers. Air Support was available from the carriers USS Boxer and USS Philippine Sea. Six minesweepers were to approach to within 2000 yards of the beach. An SFCP (Shore Fire Control Party), a Tactical Air Support Party, and an Underwater Demolition Team (UDT), to reconnoiter the beach, were attached to the Commando.

LVT's Launch from USS Fort Marion with 41 Commando Embarked for a raid against Songjin 250km behind the lines

Thick fog postponed the landing and reduced the naval bombardment to two hours but, at 0805 7 April, D Tp landed from two LVTs (armoured amphibians) and by 0900 hours the covering force was in position ready for the Assault Engineers, aided by the MT Section, to begin work.

A Royal Marine searches a North Korean house for Communist soldiers during a raid to destroy enemy installations and supply lines near Songjin, where the main north-south railroad runs close to the sea. National Archives Photo (USN) 80-G-428239

Earlier raids had been directed at culverts and bridges, which could soon be repaired, and tunnels, from which roof falls could easily be removed. (Ideally, a train wrecked in a tunnel would block a line longest). On this raid the target was the embankment. Demolitions were carried out in four phases: first 16 shaped charges were blown to make boreholes, next each borehole was packed with 801lbs of TNT which were detonated. This process was then repeated in the craters to produce a gap in the embankment 100 ft wide and 16 ft deep. Finally 55 anti personnel mines were laid in the craters.

When mining was complete the withdrawal started and the last LVT left the beach at 1555 hrs. The Commando had been ashore for nearly eight hours and, apart from a small group which fired at C Tp from long range, there had been no enemy activity, although an informer reported two division in Songjin 15 miles to the North.

There were no landing force casualties but unfortunately 5 villagers had been killed and 15 wounded. These were tended by the SBAs. Apart from this the naval bombardment had inflicted only superficial damage. The Commando disembarked at Yokosuka and was re-established in Camp McGill on 13 April from where sub unit and unit training continued.

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