Passing the Test: Combat in Korea, April-June 1951
For U.S. and UN soldiers fighting the Korean War, the spring of 1951 was brutal. The troops faced a tough and determined foe under challenging conditions. The Chinese Spring Offensive of 1951 exemplified the hardships of the war, as the UN forces struggled with the Chinese troops over Line Kansas, a phase line north of the 38th parallel, in a conflict that led to the war’s final stalemate. Passing the Test: Combat in Korea, April–June 1951 explores the UN responses to the offensive in detail, looking closely at combat from the perspectives of platoons, squads, and the men themselves. Editors William T. Bowers and John T. Greenwood emphasize the tactical operations on the front lines and examine U.S. and UN strategy, as well as the operations of the Communist Chinese and North Korean forces. They employ a variety of sources, including interviews conducted by U.S. Army historians within hours or days of combat, unit journals, and after action reports, to deliver a comprehensive narrative of the offensive and its battles.
Passing the Test highlights the experiences of individual soldiers, providing unique insights into the chaos, perseverance, and heroism of war. The interviews offer a firsthand account that is untainted by nostalgia and later literature, illuminating the events that unfolded on the battlefields of Korea.
William T. Bowers (1946–2008), a former U.S. Army officer, was editor of The Line: Combat in Korea, January–February 1951 and Striking Back: Combat in Korea, March–April 1951.
John T. Greenwood, who retired in 2007 as chief of the Office of Medical History, Office of the Surgeon General, U.S. Army, is the editor of Milestones of Aviation, Normandy to Victory: The War Diary of General Courtney H. Hodges and the First U.S. Army, and The Blitzkrieg Legend: The 1940 Campaign in the West. He lives in Annandale, Virginia.
“Passing the Test completes the story of ground combat during the Chinese offensives of 1951. It records the action of the small units that held back the last offensives and then counterattacked to regain the ground lost. Recorded on the ground where the soldiers fought, these chapters are ‘the unadorned first drafts of history’ brought back by the Army History Detachments, as told by the men who fought in those battles. This is combat history at its best.”—Lt. General Julius W. Becton, Jr. (Ret.)
“This volume from the Combat in Korea series captures the shock, flow, and change of tactical battle in the spring and early summer of 1951. First hand experiences drawn from battlefield interviews and adept selection of unit battle summaries combine to vividly portray the facts of small unit combat as formal war histories don’t. Leader and soldier realities, their uncertainty and reactions under fire, and, ultimately, their choices and resolute performance illuminate this narrative of brutal battle at the height of Korean War fighting. This will be a classic for those wishing to study the Korean War as experienced by the combat soldier in 1951.”— Lt. General Bob Wood (Ret.)
"The editors . . . did a fine job in relating the background to the fierce, brutal clashes between the U.S. Army forces of Eighth Army and numerous units of the Chinese 'volunteer' armies that had intervened in the Korean struggle late in 1950."--H-Net Review
“Clearly a work of scholarship that will be a valuable document for understanding the war, more important in some ways than the story of battles and army movements.”--Teaching History
"Serves as a monument to the fighting spirit of the individual soldier."--Army
"Cirillo...greatly enhances the text by providing a superlative introduction and conclusion that place the Chinese Fifth Offensive in perspective."--Army
"A must read for all those who want to understand the Korean War and how the United Nations Command and U.S. Eighth Army effectively fought the Chinese Spring Offensives on 1951."--Journal of America's Military Past