- Country Profile
country profile Location Western Europe Capital Paris Population 63,713,926 (June 2007) Area 547,030㎢ (2.5 times the size of the Korean peninsula) Race composition German Celtic, Latin, North African, Indian and others Religion Catholic (83%), Protestant (2%) and others Form of government Republic Language French Currency Euro Independence Day N/A National holiday Jul. 14 (the day of Bastille attack during the 1789 French Revolution) Date of diplomatic relationship established Feb. 15, 1949 Military attache establishment Sep. 1959 in France, Feb. 1977 in Korea
- Key Roles
Among European countries, France, the Netherlands, and Belgium dispatched the infantry battalion-level troops to Korea.
Consisting of 39 officers, 172 non-commissioned officers and more than 800 enlisted personnel, the French Battalion departed Marseilles on September 25, 1950, arriving in Pusan on November 30, 1950. Once equipped with the US weapons and vehicles, the battalion was attached to the 23rd Infantry Regiment of the 2nd US Army Division, with whom it served until the end of the hostilities on July 27, 1953.
Particularly, the French Battalion demonstrated their bravery at the battle of Chipyongri in February 1951, and after this battle the US soldiers of 23rd Infantry Regiment came to recognize French soldiers’ combat capabilities.
Lieutenant Colonel Monclaude was a man with a special career. During World War II, he served as a general of the French Army. He was LTG at that time. After the war, he retired from the French Army. When the Korean War broke out and the French government decided to dispatch troops, however, he volunteered to command the French Battalion. His suggestion was accepted, so that he became the commander of the French Battalion. His position was Lieutenant Colonel, but members of the UN headquarters and the 8th US Army were aware of his career. Thus, everyone called him “General Monclaude.”
The French Battalion fought with the 23rd US Regiment, blocked the Chinese forces’ southward advance, and played an important role in establishing bases for counterattack through the Battle of Wonju, Battle of Twin Tunnels, and Battle of Heartbreak Ridge.
Participation History Unit Participation Period Note
Nov. 1950 to Oct. 1953
Assigned to the 2nd US Division
Ship La Grandire
Casualty Statistics Total KIA WIA MIA POW 1,289 262 1,008 7 12
- Key Battles
Battle near Twin Tunnels (25km Northwest of Wonju; 1951. 1. 31~2. 2)
Ceremony for the unit
the U.S. Presidential Medal
This was the battle in which the French Battalion fought against the Chinese Communist 125th Division near the Twin Tunnels on the Central Railroad between Wonju and Yangpyeong. When the 1st Battalion and the 2nd Battalion Reconnaissance Unit of the U.S. 23rd Regiment were patrolling from Wonju to Jipyeong-ri during the U.N. Forces' Counteroffensive, they were surrounded by the Chinese Communist Army near the Twin Tunnels located in the middle of these two locations. This Battalion along with the 3rd Battalion of the U.S. 23rd Regiment advanced to the battle area on Jan. 31 to defeat the Chinese Communist Army and rescue the Reconnaissance Unit. The French Battalion in cooperation with the U.S. Battalion moved to the Twin tunnels area but the Chinese Communist Army already left the area. After rescuing the Reconnaissance unit, they therefore began guarding all directions to prepare for a night battle. At the dawn of the next day, 2 regiments under the command of the Chinese Communist 125th Division attacked them. The Chinese Communist Army destroyed 1 French company position and threatened the Battalion Headquarters, but the French Battalion fought bravely to defeat the Chinese Communist Army’s attack. The French Battalion caused the Chinese Communist Army heavy casualties in this battle and opened up the road for the U.N. Forces' attack units.
Battle of Jipyeong-ri
This was the battle in which the French Battalion attached to the 23rd Regiment of the U.S. 2nd Division defended an intensive attack by 3 enemy divisions under the command of the Chinese Communist 39th Army Corps at Jipyeong-ri during the Chinese Communist February Offensive in Feb. 1951. After completing the Twin Tunnels battle, this Battalion along with the Regiment moved to Jipyeong-ri on Feb. 3 and defended the west flank of the defensive position formed around Jipyeong-ri. The adjacent units on both flanks retreated due to the Chinese Communist February Offensive on Feb. 11, the U.S. 23rd Regiment and French Battalion were surrounded by the Chinese Communist 39th Army Corps in all directions. But the order was passed down to defend the position because of the importance of the terrain and they defeated the Chinese Communist series of attacks in isolation for 4 days to secure the position. The Chinese Communist Army retreated on Feb. 16 when the U.S. 5th Cavalry Regiment arrived in Jipyeong-ri from their rear side. As a result of this battle, the Chinese Communist Army suffered heavy loss and their February Offensive failed. The U.N. Forces were able to change the course of the war to prepare a plan for a counteroffensive for the first time since the Chinese Communist intervention.
Battle of Heartbreak Ridge (22km North of Yanggu ; 1951. 9. 13~10. 13, Hill 894-931-851)
French soldiers on Heartbreak Ridge
This was the battle in which the French Battalion along with the U.S. 23rd Regiment and the Netherlands Battalion fought fiercely with the North Korean Army (the 6th and 12th Division) in the Yanggu-gun Dong-myeon Satae-ri area. When the discussion of the cease-fire talk on Jul. 10, 1951 collapsed because the Communist side intentionally delayed the talk, the U.N. Forces urged the Communist side to respond to the talk and at the same time carried out this battle to establish the defense line at a more favorable location. The French Battalion along with the U.S. 23rd Regiment with the support of the Division began attacking Heartbreak Ridge from Sep. 13 but failed to capture it due to the North Korean Army's stiff resistance. Later, all units in the Division were dispatched and the ridge was captured. The U.S. 38th Regiment and 72nd Tank Battalion attacked the Mundeung-ri Valley, the west of Heartbreak Bridge, and the U.S. 23rd Regiment and French Battalion along with Special Task Force consisted of the 23rd Tank Battalion attacked Heartbreak Ridge from the Satae-ri Valley, the east of Heartbreak Ridge. And, the 9th Regiment launched an attack simultaneously from the west of the Mundeung-ri valley. In this battle, the French Battalion suffered heavy due to the Communist Army's stiff resistance and caused the Communist Army immense damage too. The cease-fire talk resumed 9 days after this battle ended.
* When UPI's war correspondent Stan Carter visited the U.S. 2nd Division Battalion medical treatment facility during this battle, a wounded soldier was yelling in anguish "feels like my chest is torn apart" while shivering. After he witnessed this scene, he described the battle condition as "Heartbreak Ridge" when reporting about this battle. Thereafter, Hill 929 was known as the Heartbreak Ridge.
Battle of Arrowhead Hill (1952. 10. 6~10)
Ceremony for the unit
the U.S. Presidential Medal
This was the battle in which the French Battalion fought against the 338th Regiment of the Chinese Communist Army 113th Division while defending Hill 281, northwest of Cheolwon. The Chinese Communist Army dispatched a battalion or company size unit every night from Oct. 6 to Oct. 9 to attack Hill 281, but this Battalion defended the position using close-range combat tactics with artillery support. At the same time, the South Korean Army 9th Division was fighting against the Chinese Communist Army on their right side at the Baekma Hill. As this Battalion defended the hill until the end, they were able to subdue the Chinese Communist Army's morale and make a big contribution to the defense of the Baekma Hill located on their right side.
After the cease-fire agreement, most of the French Force left from Oct. 23 to Nov. 6 in 1953 except for a small size unit that remained. The remaining unit left in Jun. 1964.