Year
1950
Month Day
November 26

Chinese counterattacks in Korea change nature of war

In some of the fiercest fighting of the Korean War, thousands of communist Chinese troops launch massive counterattacks against U.S. and Republic of Korea (ROK) troops, driving the Allied forces before them and putting an end to any thoughts for a quick or conclusive U.S. victory. When the counterattacks had been stemmed, U.S. and ROK forces had been driven from North Korea and the war settled into a grinding and frustrating stalemate for the next two-and-a-half years.

In the weeks prior to the Chinese attacks, ROK and U.S. forces, under the command of General Douglas MacArthur, had succeeded in driving deeper into North Korea and were nearing the border with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The PRC issued warnings that the Allied forces should keep their distance, and beginning in October 1950 troops from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army began to cross the border to assist their North Korean ally. Their numbers grew to around 300,000 by early November. 

Some bloody encounters occurred between the Chinese and ROK and U.S. forces, but the Chinese troops suddenly broke off offensive operations on November 6. This spurred MacArthur, who had always discounted the military effectiveness of the Chinese troops, to propose a massive new offensive by U.S. and ROK forces. 

Alternately referred to as the “End the War” or “Home by Christmas” offensive, the attack began on November 24. The offensive almost immediately encountered heavy resistance, and by November 26 the Chinese were launching destructive counterattacks along a 25-mile front. By December, U.S. and ROK forces had been pushed out of North Korea. Eventually, U.S. and ROK forces stopped the Chinese troops and the war settled into a military stalemate.

The massive Chinese attack brought an end to any thoughts that U.S. boys would be “home by Christmas.” It also raised the specter of the war expanding beyond the borders of the Korean peninsula, something U.S. policymakers—leery of becoming entangled in a land war in Asia that might escalate into a nuclear confrontation with the Soviets—were anxious to avoid.

READ MORE: The Most Harrowing Battle of the Korean War

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Archaeologists enter tomb of King Tut

In Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, British archaeologists Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon become the first souls to enter King Tutankhamen’s tomb in more than 3,000 years. Tutankhamen’s sealed burial chambers were miraculously intact, and inside was a collection of several thousand ...read more

FDR establishes modern Thanksgiving holiday

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs a bill officially establishing the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day. The tradition of celebrating the holiday on Thursday dates back to the early history of the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies, when post-harvest ...read more

T.E. Lawrence reports on Arab affairs

On November 26, 1916, Thomas Edward Lawrence, a junior member of the British government’s Arab Bureau during World War I, publishes a detailed report analyzing the revolt led by the Arab leader Sherif Hussein against the Ottoman Empire in the late spring of 1916. As a scholar and ...read more

Air Force helicopter pilot rescues Special Forces team

While returning to base from another mission, Air Force 1st Lt. James P. Fleming and four other Bell UH-1F helicopter pilots get an urgent message from an Army Special Forces team pinned down by enemy fire. Although several of the other helicopters had to leave the area because ...read more

"Alice in Wonderland" manuscript is sent as a Christmas present

On November 26, 1862, Oxford mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson sends a handwritten manuscript called Alice’s Adventures Under Ground to 10-year-old Alice Liddell. READ MORE: Who is the Real Alice in Wonderland? The 30-year-old Dodgson, better known by his nom de plume Lewis ...read more

“Casablanca” opens in theaters

On November 26, 1942, Casablanca, a World War II-era drama starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, premieres in New York City; it will go on to become one of the most beloved Hollywood movies in history. In the film, Bogart played Rick Blaine, the owner of a swanky North ...read more

Vigilantes in California lynch two suspected murderers

A mob of people in San Jose, California, storm the jail where Thomas Thurmond and John Holmes are being held as suspects in the kidnapping and murder of Brooke Hart, the 22-year-old son of a local storeowner. The mob of angry citizens proceeded to lynch the accused men and then ...read more

Japanese task force leaves for Pearl Harbor

On November 26, 1941, Adm. Chuichi Nagumo leads the Japanese First Air Fleet, an aircraft carrier strike force, toward Pearl Harbor, with the understanding that should “negotiations with the United States reach a successful conclusion, the task force will immediately put about ...read more