The Korean War is often called 'the forgotten war', overshadowed by WW2 and Vietnam in terms of continuing interest, but there is one battle amongst the many fought there that still raises eyebrows and heart rates. A legendary fight, regarded by many historians as the most brutal in modern warfare. Known in Korea as The Battle of Lake Changjin, but known in the west simply as Chosin.
The story is well known, MacArthur, ignoring the advice of everyone around him drove the UN forces from the very foot of the Korean peninsula, to the far north only miles from border with China. And it's here that the PLA struck back, attacking the unprepared UN army in the deepest winter, and driving them far back toward the south. The battle at Chosin was typical of that winter, around 30,000 UN soldiers, comprising primarily of the 1st Marine Division, were surprised, surrounded, and forced to fight a courageous breakout and fighting retreat toward the safety of the port at Hungnam. Against an overwhelming 120,000 PLA troops, and in bitterly cold weather the Marines fought on, inflicting huge casualties on their opponents, and allowing a successful withdrawal of UN forces.
The battle is legendary amongst the Marine Corps, the soldiers who fought there known as 'the Chosin few' and the number of Medals of Honor awarded second only the Battle of the Bulge.
Most of the photos of the period show the Marines at Chosin wearing a parka that at first glance looks like the Army's M47, but look again and you can see the differences. This is longer, cutting off at the ankle not the knee. It's heavier with a darker, thicker removeable alpaca liner. And it's not belted, instead it has buttoned tabs either side of the waist. And it is much much much rarer - I've been chasing one of these for years. It's a true collectors piece, and a necessity for any Marine Corps fans out there.
Even better, this is named to a PFC Robert F Barrett of the 1st Marine Division. Having looked through a number of muster rolls, he seemed to have been drafted as a replacement, training in October 1950. By Nov 51 Barrett had joined C Company, 7th Marine Battalion, 1st Marines and would have worn this jacket when the battlion was surrounded at the northern tip of Chosin Reservoir. The 7th then were ordered to breakout and reach Hagaru-ri, and after a few days rest lead the vaguard for the retreat to Koto-ri. This parka was in the absolute thick of the battle. It seems by January 51 Barrett was heading back to the states for a dependency discharge.
This is in good condition considering that most of these are completely destroyed. It's been used, there are some marks to the outer shall, and some wearing to the edges of the cuffs and hem but otherwise it's in solid shape for such a rare piece. There is some balding and one hole in the liner - it looks like he's carried a shoulder slung pistol underneath.
- No tag, but this one fits like a large
- Pit to pit 25" (across the back of the outer shell but be mindful this is a thick piece)
- Shoulder to shoulder 21"
- Shoulder to cuff 25"
- Collar to hem 46"