27 APRIL 1951, Page 1

The Korean Front Flares Up

The enemy offensive in Korea has made swift and substantial gains, including a major penetration in a sector apparently mainly held by South Korean formations. It looks, however; as if the 8th Army should be able to contain these thrusts, and if it can, the battle now confusedly raging may well prove to be, as General Ridgway has suggested, a decisive one ; for the Communists. who are suffering very heavy,losses, appear to have committed their main forces, and if they lose this desperate throw, they may have to consider retiring from the game. The United Nations forces are better commanded, and far more soundly organised, than they were when General MacArthur launched them on their ill-starred advance towards the Yalu before Christmas. They are also numerically stronger, and it seems safe to assume that General van Fleet has not, as General Walker did, left himself without a strategic reserve. The climatic con- ditions under which they are fighting are far less exacting than they were in the winter, and are also less calculated to hamper air operations. These are not meeting serious opposition over the battlefield, but Russian-built fighters from Manchurian bases are intervening in some strength, and not without success. against heavy bombers and their escorts in the region of the frontier. For the next few days the fighting is certain to be fierce, and the situation is likely to give grounds for anxiety ; but the United Nations forces have an overwhelming superiority in all classes of fire-power, and though their forces may have to give more ground before they can stem the tide, their ability to do so is not in serious doubt. The Chinese have used cavalry to exploit their main break-through, but so far there is no news of armour being employed by the Communists. This may be partly due to niggardliness in the purveyors of the T34, but RS main cause is probably the virtual impossibility of moving any • save small numbers of armoured fighting vehicles up to the front without inviting the attentions of the Air Force.