Robert Homer Soule
Major General, United States Army
3rd “Rock of Marne” Division Coming Home from Korea
[This article is quoted from the New Orleans Times Picayune, October 1954]
The famous 3rd “Rock of the Marne” Division is leaving Seoul for home under the redeployment program. Two Associated Press war correspondents here remember the days when they knew the Third as a “good division to be with if you want to see the War.”—Quotation attributed to Tom Becker and John Randolph.
Dateline: Seoul, Saturday, October 30 (AP): The big, brawling 3rd Infantry Division, which led the turn of the tide in the Korean war, leaves this battered peninsula today after four triumphant years. There are no bad divisions in Korea. But this “Rock of the Marne” Division that sailed for New Orleans showed a special luster. It was fast on its feet, savage in the clinches, and never learned how to lose.
When the terribly wounded 10th Corps staggered to its Dunkerque at Hungnam in the winter of 1950, it was the 3rd that fought the rear guard action in below zero weather and threw back the Chinese Reds. When the beaten and dispirited 8th Army dragged south from Seoul after the Reds’ great New Year’s offensive of 1951, it was the 3rd that came boiling north again, looking for a fight.
It got what it wanted and won. The headlong retreat was halted and the Communists never won another major battle in Korea.
A little gamecock, a scholar, and a scrapper led the 3rd Division in those darkest days of the war. He was Major General Robert “Shorty” Soule, now dead of a heart attack.
In the midst of the gloom and despair of that brutal Korean winter, Shorty Soule was almost the only man in Korea who thought the Chinese Reds could be whipped.The South Korean capital of Seoul has been lost for the second time. The army was 50 miles south of the city. Others studied escape routes. Shorty Soule stood up and said, “We can lick the Chinese anytime, any place, and anywhere. And if I get the orders, I can go back north and take Seoul.” There were scoffers, but two months later, Shorty Soule pitched his headquarters tents in Seoul on the very spot he picked out from the air two months earlier.
In April of 1951, when the Communists launched their big, Spring Offensive, it was the 3rd that held firm along the hottest sector and saved Seoul. It was the Third that led the drive north to the Iron Triangle in central Korea. It was the 3rd that won the last big hill battle in 1953, capturing Outpost Harry on the central front. And it was the 3rd that blocked the last Red offensive of the central front in the summer of 1953. There was class in everything the division did. And there was not synthetic bravado about the 3rd. It knew it was good and took for granted that everyone else did too.
Military textbooks could, and will, be written about the famous “midnight ride” of the 3rd in May of 1951, when the Communists made their final, all-out bid for victory in Korea. The 3rd was resting from a week of fighting on the extreme west of the battle line. Then the Reds cut loose on the extreme eastern end with a mountain offensive. The 3rd packed up its more than 15,000 men one dark night in a crashing rainstorm, sped all the way across Korea to the eastern hills, and stopped the Reds.
The move took a little more than 36 hours.
Even the men who gave the order didn’t think it could be done. Neither
did the Chinese Communists. Prisoners swept up by the 3rd were astounded
to learn the division had crossed the entire peninsula and gone into battle
Died. Major General Robert H. Soule, 51, former
3rd Infantry Division commander in Korea, who won a Distinguished Service
Cross for his iron-nerved handling of the X Corps' epic "advance in another
direction" in December, 1950, from the Changjin Reservoir to the Hungnam
beachhead; of a heart attack; in Washington, D.C.
SOULE, ROBERT H.
Headquarters, X Corps: General Orders No. 72 (December 24, 1950)
Other Award: Distinguished Service Cross (WWII)
The Distinguished Service Cross (First Oak Leaf Cluster) is presented to Robert H. Soule, Major General, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United Nations while serving as Commanding General of the 3d Infantry Division.
Major General Soule distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action against enemy aggressor forces in the vicinity of the Changjin (Chosin) Reservoir in North Korea, during the period 1 through 24 December 1950.
Assigned the mission of covering the withdrawal of those elements of the X Corps in the Chosin Reservoir and Hagaru-ri areas, General Soule displayed sound judgment, high professional skill and untiring energy in directing the operations of his division.
Although faced with a numerically superior force, freezing temperatures, and an aggressive foe, General Soule's actions enabled the successful withdrawal of the entire First Marine Division and elements of the Seventh Infantry Division.
Subsequently, General Soule continued his covering mission so successfully that the enemy was continuously beaten back from the beachhead allowing a complete and orderly withdrawal of all units of X Corps from the Hungnam area with a minimum loss of personnel and equipment. His continued presence at the front under bitter conditions with total disregard for his personal safety and under small arms and automatic weapons fire, was an inspiration to his men during this historic operation.
SOULE, ROBERT H