Online Library of Selected Images:
-- EVENTS -- The Korean War, 1950-1953

The United Nations' Offensive, 15 September - 25 November 1950
Overview and Selected Images


North Korea's summer offensive was brought to an abrupt end on 15 September 1950 with a daring amphibious landing at Inchon. Within a few days, the much-battered North Korean army was disintegrating as it retreated from the Pusan perimeter, pursued by the U.N. Eighth Army. Seoul was liberated by month's end. In October, a further amphibious operation directed against the east coast port city of Wonsan was overtaken by events, as the South Korean army pushed into the objective area well before the planned landing date.

U.N. ground forces, still largely made up of U.S. and South Korean troops, moved north along the Korean east coast, through the center of the peninsula and up into its western parts from Seoul, constrained more by logistics problems than by enemy resistance. Though hampered by severe shortages of mine clearance assets, the Navy opened new ports at Chinnampo on the west coast and Wonsan, Hungnam, Iwon and Songjin in the east. Supplies and fresh forces from across the Pacific, so sparse in July, were by now arriving in abundance. President Truman and other dignitaries came west to confer and to see for themselves.

Offshore, four U.S. fleet aircraft carriers, smaller U.S. and British carriers, several cruisers and numerous destroyers hurled airborne weapons and naval gunfire wherever enemy targets could be found. The available firepower was so abundant that some ships, rushed out during the summer crisis, were released to return home for a well-deserved rest or returned to their normal duties.

A United Nations' resolution offered a mandate to reunify Korea from the south, and General MacArthur willingly complied. However, his troops were thin on the ground in North Korea, with the separate spearheads too separated by distance and the rugged terrain to provide mutual support. From Communist China came threats of intervention, unfortunately discounted by MacArthur's intelligence, as the Chinese intent was real and was backed by battle-hardened ground forces and a Soviet promise of covering air power.

By early November, U.S. and South Korean troops had fought Chinese units, capturing prisoners and discovering that the new enemy was a tough one. Aerial reconnaissance reported much military traffic southbound from Manchuria. MacArthur was concerned enough to begin bombing attacks against bridges over the Yalu, but retained his optimism that a final offensive in late November would quickly bring the War to a successful conclusion.


This page features a special selection of images related to the U.N. offensive period of the Korean War, from 15 September to 25 November 1950, and provides links to additional pictorial coverage of that time.

For additional special selections of images of this period of the Korean War, with links to broader coverage, see:

  • The Inchon Invasion, September 1950;
  • The Wonsan Operation, October 1950;
  • Aircraft Carrier Operations, September - November 1950;

    For more images of other aspects of the United Nations' Offensive period of the Korean War, see:

  • Carrier Air Strikes, September-November 1950
  • Navy Planes in action with MiG-15s, November 1950
  • Naval Gunfire Activities, September-November 1950
  • Land Operations, September-November 1950
  • Opening of Chinnampo, November 1950
  • The Iwon Landings, October-November 1950
  • Command Activities, September-December 1950
  • Miscellaneous Shipboard Activities, June-December 1950
  • Trans-Pacific Logistics, July-December 1950
  • Underway Replenishment, July-December 1950
  • Logistics & Support Activities in Japan, June-December 1950
  • Logistics & Support Activities in Korea, June-December 1950
  • Activities in the United States, June - December 1950
  • For a precis of our Korean War images, and links to more comprehensive pictorial coverage of that conflict, see:

  • The Korean War, June 1950 - July 1953 - Introductory Overview and Special Image Selection


  • Click photograph for a larger image.

    Photo #: 80-G-422387

    Douglas AD "Skyraider" attack planes


    From USS Valley Forge (CV-45), fire 5-inch rockets at a North Korean field position.
    Photo is dated 24 October 1950.

    Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

    Online Image: 153KB; 740 x 615 pixels

    Reproductions may be available through the National Archives.

     
    Photo #: 80-G-423495

    Attacks on Yalu River Bridges, November 1950


    Yalu River bridges at Sinuiju, North Korea, under attack by planes from USS Leyte (CV-32). Three spans have been dropped on the highway bridge, but the railway bridge (lower bridge) appears to be intact.
    The Manchurian city of Antung is across the river, in upper right.
    Photograph is dated 18 November 1950, but may have been taken on 14 November.
    Compare bomb damage on and around the river embankment, in the lower part of this photo, with that in Photo # 80-G-422115, which was taken earlier.

    Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

    Online Image: 140KB; 740 x 620 pixels

    Reproductions may be available through the National Archives.

     
    Photo #: 80-G-K-12603 (Color)

    USS Missouri (BB-63)


    Fires a salvo of 16-inch shells from turret # 2 while bombarding Chongjin, North Korea, in an effort to cut enemy communications, October 1950.
    Chongjin is only 39 miles from North Korea's northern border.

    This is a color-tinted version of a black & white original. The original photograph is Photo #: 80-G-421049.

    Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the U.S. National Archives.

    Online Image: 84KB; 740 x 605 pixels

    Reproductions may be available through the National Archives.

     
    Photo #: NH 96378

    Seoul, Korea


    U.S. Marines engaged in street fighting during the liberation of Seoul, circa late September 1950.
    Note M-1 rifles and Browning Automatic Rifles carried by the Marines, dead Koreans in the street, and M-4 "Sherman" tanks in the distance.

    U.S. Naval History & Heritage Command Photograph.

    Online Image: 140KB; 740 x 615 pixels

     
    Photo #: 80-G-420665

    Korean refugee woman


    Carries her belongings in a jug on her head, while fleeing from Pohang, South Korea.
    Original photo is dated 17 October 1950.

    Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

    Online Image: 87KB; 740 x 615 pixels

    Reproductions may be available through the National Archives.

     
    Photo #: 80-G-420530

    Korean War Casualty Evacuation


    Navy Corpsmen Herald B. Williams, James E. Carr and William N. Shipworth help carry a wounded man from a U.S. Marine Corps HO3S-1 evacuation helicopter to a hospital in Korea. Helicopter is from squadron VMO-6.
    Original photo is dated 3 October 1950, in which case it was probably taken during Marine Corps operations in the vicinity of Seoul, Korea.
    Note extensive "Quonset" hut facilities in the distance.

    Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

    Online Image: 122KB; 740 x 615 pixels

    Reproductions may be available through the National Archives.

     
    Photo #: 80-G-422837

    Opening of Chinnampo, North Korea, October-November 1950


    A LCVP bucks in the well of USS Catamount (LSD-17), during mine clearance operations off Chinnampo, circa November 1950.
    USS Forrest Royal (DD-872), flagship for this operation, is in the left background.

    Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

    Online Image: 92KB; 740 x 610 pixels

    Reproductions may be available through the National Archives.

     
    Photo #: 80-G-420485

    General of the Army Douglas MacArthur


    Boards USS Missouri (BB-63) off Inchon, Korea, 21 September 1950.

    Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the U.S. National Archives.

    Online Image: 83KB; 590 x 765 pixels

    Reproductions may be available through the National Archives.

     
    Photo #: 80-G-420962

    USS Philippine Sea (CV-47)


    Crewmen rolling a 1000 pound bomb across the hangar deck, while rearming from the ammunition ship (AE) in the background, during operations in Korean waters, circa 19 October 1950.
    Note wooden rails used for moving the bomb.

    Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

    Online Image: 102KB; 740 x 630 pixels

    Reproductions may be available through the National Archives.

     




    For higher resolution images see: Obtaining Photographic Reproductions

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