In the face of the Chinese advance in late November and December 1950, the US Army X Corps withdrew toward the Hamhŭng/Hŭngnam area to be evacuated by sea. Hamhŭng had already been bombed by the US Air Force, but the X Corps had been ordered to “deny the Communist troops supplies and transportation facilities” before they left the area. For several days, beginning December 11, the 185 th Engineering Battalion of X Corps hauled some four tons of dynamite to the industrial outskirts of Hŭngnam and began to destroy what remained of the factories. On December 15, the railroad bridge leading south from Hamhŭng was blown up. All the highway bridges in the vicinity were similarly demolished. Three days later, the First Platoon burned all the buildings and destroyed all aviation supplies at Hamhŭng’s Yongp’o airport, about five miles south of Hŭngnam, with gasoline, tracer bullets and grenades; for good measure, a naval bombardment hit the airport later that afternoon. Meanwhile, some 100,000 North Korean refugees were transported from Hŭngnam to South Korea by US navy LST’s in the so-called “Christmas Evacuation” of December 19 – 24. Out of the rubble of a destroyed and depopulated Hamhŭng, the North Koreans and East Germans built a new industrial city.
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