Armour in Korean War.

Discussion in 'Postwar' started by Owen, Sep 6, 2008.

  1. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Was the Centurion ever involved in any tank v tank actions in Korea?

    I know Jeff mentioned American unit actions on another thread, T34 v M4
    Did British Commonwealth armoured units have much combat with Chinese/ North Korean armour?
  2. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    I found a listing of British Army formations that were in Korea here, but other than the obviously named Royal Armoured Corps, I don't know which were armored and which were not. Maybe this will give you a start.

    I found this page also. Armor of the Korean War
  3. Warlord

    Warlord Veteran wannabe

    While reading Mossman´s "Ebb and Flow", and some other related stuff, I learned that when Uncle Joe struck back in the winter of 1950-51, and the UNC had to pull out of Seoul, there were some rearguard actions fought by the Irish Hussars in which several tanks had to be left behind, but I´m not sure which type they were. Could they have been Centurions?
  4. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    According to Macksey's 'The Tanks' (covering the RTR from '45-75) the first Cents to get to Korea were initially withdrawn to the south and then Japan due to sudden fear over the potential loss of a still secret vehicle!

    British tanks do seem to have been used mostly as strongpoints, with immense care being put into moving them into exactly the same evening firing positions and aligning the gun, allowing fire missions to be carried out in darkness - artillery type jobs. I've got a fair few accounts of cents taking hits, mentions of 85mm rounds embedding in the front glacis and other tales of surviving huge bombardments but nothing so far specifically detailing engaging other tanks.

    My bookshelves are annoyingly sketchy on the Centurion, there's a few books I've been tempted by but still looking for something definitive like the Rob Griffin ones on other postwar British tanks.

    Somewhat annoying video clip on the Cent here, but some very nice footage beneath the blurb:
    HowStuffWorks "Centurion Main Battle Tank"
  5. Warlord

    Warlord Veteran wannabe

    Stepping into the territory of the "what if´s", it would have been an interesting matchup between the Centurion and the red coffins, both the T34 and the JS3, even though I believe the Queen´s tank would have prevailed because of armor and firepower in the first case, and mobility in the second.

    In fact, equivalent battles took place during the Six Day War, but the contenders abilities weren´t exactly even... :m9:
  6. Django

    Django Treadhead

  7. Yorvic Trader

    Yorvic Trader Member

    Hi, my father served as a Trooper with the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards, A Squadron 4th Troop in Korea from December 51 to November 52 and during Feb or March 52 was injured in or around his Centurion tank. He spent some time in hospital in Kure, Japan before returning to the line. I would be interested to learn of any of the accounts involving cents taking hits especially if they relate to this time frame in the Korean War. Any other info would be much appreciated too. Thanks in advance, Chris
  8. Yorvic Trader

    Yorvic Trader Member

    Hi Owen, I've only just joined this site and wonder if you found anything out with regard to your question above? If so, I'd be very interested as I am trying to find out about my father who served as a Trooper with the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards, A Squadron 4th Troop in Korea from December 51 to November 52 and during Feb or March 52 was injured in or around his Centurion tank. He spent some time in hospital in Kure, Japan before returning to the line. He survived the war but sadly passed away over 50 years ago and information within the family is very sketchy. Any other info relating to this time would be much appreciated too. Thanks in advance, Chris
  9. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    No sorry , I didn't find out anything.
    Welcome to the forum & hope some other members can help you out.
  10. Yorvic Trader

    Yorvic Trader Member

    That's a shame but thanks for your reply :)
  11. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Hi, YV,
    The only stuff in the book I was referring to re. 5th Dragoons is very general placement in 1952, I'm afraid.
    Not got nearly enough stuff on Korea in General, but If I can find it I've Hastings's book somewhere and he's not bad on anecdotal things. Never know.

    In the meantime - are you willing to provide your dad's name? I'd like to see more Korea enquiry around here - might be someone who can help with a detail or two.
  12. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    Hi folks,

    Check out,...........8th Kings Royal Hussar's, Wikipedia, scan down the list and click on Korea War,

    A very interesting article about British tank's in action.(it's a must read article)

  13. BrianM59

    BrianM59 Senior Member

    My dad"s engineer unit (55Field Sqdn) were carried out of the Imjin battle by Centurions of the Royal Irish Hussars-commanded by Major Henry Huth. Didn't read of any tank on tank but did read of them hosing Chinese soldiers off each other's tanks with machine gun fire?
    Yorvic Trader likes this.
  14. Tolbooth

    Tolbooth Patron Patron

    My Father, after WW2 service with the Lothian & Border Yeomanry, was called back for Korea with the 8th Hussars. On 26th April he wrote a letter home after the Imjin battle.

    "Well I guess it will have been in the papers by now about how the 29th Brigade stopped the Chinese on the 25th. What the papers won’t say is that the 29th has practically been wiped out and if it hadn’t been for the Eighth Hussars it would have been wiped out completely. We are now being withdrawn and going back to Suwon.

    Our own Regiment didn’t have many casualties but the infantry have been cut up terrible. Of our own people we don’t know of anyone being killed but there’s some missing. Our Medical Officer and his operator, Bielby (?), were both taken prisoner definitely. Our tanks saw the M.O.
    taken but could do nothing to help him and the last they saw of him he was waving goodbye.

    Mr Venner, my troop officer is wounded and Dennis who drives the other Dingo is missing. His Dingo was run into by one of our tanks and he had to leave it. Some fellows say he climbed on to the back of a tank but I went all round the tanks crews this morning before I came back and could find out nothing definite. The Padre is out now going round the hospitals, aid posts and clearing stations to see if he can trace any of the lads.

    From one tank I found out what happened to Mr Venner. He’s got a bullet through the thigh and it’s broken. Despite that he climbed on to a tank which had only the driver in and directed him round the paddy fields running over Chinese.

    There was plenty to run over too. Thousands of them who seemed to come from nowhere and in no time the Brigade was surrounded. I was with the CO and managed to get out of the valley and miss the worst of it. That was in the morning and for the rest of the day we just had to sit with a lot of other fellows, helpless. It must have been the bloodiest battle of this war and the last, and the Chinks must have suffered three or four times as many casualties as us.

    By the way Ruby, if you should happen to see Mr Strachey (
    Minister for War?), tell him he won’t want four ships to bring the reservists home, one should do now."

    I have a copy of 'Crossbelts', the 8th Hussars history of Korea and I'll check tonight if there's any description of Tank-on-tank actions, but from memory I don't think so.

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  15. Tolbooth

    Tolbooth Patron Patron

    Can find no mention of Centurion v T34 in the 8th Hussars history, although they appeared to be quite keen to "test their mettle".

    In August '51 the 28th Brigade supported by the 8th Hussars crossed the Imjin river and set up a bridgehead with the 29th Brigade on the left flank and the Canadians on the right. The regimental history continues;

    "On September the 14th the Infantry with "C" Squadron reported seeing and hearing enemy tanks. "C" Squadron was at a fever pitch of excitement. It seemed that a tank engagement might take place at last. The Squadron was wonderfully situated astride the key hilltops and ridges. From these positions they commanded all lines of approach which could be used by enemy armour. Tank Commanders were suddenly gifted with second sight. They were able to change bushes into T 34s and shadows into well-camouflaged Joseph Stalins. One troop leader sighted a SP. When engaged with AP it miraculously changed into an ox-drawn honey cart at full gallop. The maximum number of enemy armoured vehicles reported at any one time mounted to 11. Scepticism and "Times 10" reduced this to five. And lack of evidence of track marks finally dissolved the hopes and fears of "C" Squadron and the Infantry respectively."

    It seems as though most of the North Korean tanks had been destroyed early on in the conflict and the Chinese forces relied on costly, massed infantry attacks. Certainly as far as the 8th was concerned the tanks role was mostly as 'mobile artillery'.
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  16. Yorvic Trader

    Yorvic Trader Member

    Hi von Poop, thanks, I've got Max Hastings "The Korean War" and a number of others too including "Tracks in Korea" which focuses on the "Skins" in Korea during 1951 & 52. Just hoping to pick other bits & pieces up along the way if possible.

    My dad's name was Joe Bradley from York.
  17. Kellard

    Kellard Active Member

    There were tank battles, or engagements between the British and Chinese including one where Centurions engaged a captured Cromwell firing from a railway tunnel
  18. Tolbooth

    Tolbooth Patron Patron

    Ah yes! I'd forgotten that - it was 8th Hussars Centurions

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