hen 1953 began, theJamestown Line hadbecome, in thewords of MarineCorporal Robert Hallwho fought there, “a messy, ram-bling series of ditches five to sevenfeet deep” that linked a successionof bunkers constructed of sand-bags and timber and used for shel-ter or fighting. The trencheswandered erratically to preventChinese attackers who penetratedthe perimeter from deliveringdeadly enfilade fire along lengthy,straight segments. As for thebunkers themselves, since “pilesof trash, ration cans, scrap paper,and protruding stove pipes”revealed their location, the enemy“must have known where everybunker was.”A bunker, therefore, could easi-ly become a death trap. As aresult, the Marines had learned todig and man fighting holes outsidethe bunkers. Hall described such ahole as “simply a niche in the for-ward wall of the trench, usuallycovered with planks and a fewsandbags.” Within the hole, acrude shelf held hand grenadesand a sound-powered telephonelinked the hole to the companycommand post. Along with thefighting holes, Hall and his fellowMarines dug “rabbit holes,” emer-gency shelters near the bottom of the trench wall that provided “pro-tection from the stray Chinesemortar round that sometimesdropped into the trench.” Some bunkers contained firingports for .30-caliber or .50-calibermachine guns and accommoda-tions for the crews. Chicken wirestrung across the firing ports pre-vented Chinese assault troopsfrom throwing grenades inside,but fire from the machine gunssoon tore away the wire, whichcould be replaced only at nightwhen darkness provided conceal-ment from Chinese observers.Other bunkers served as livingquarters for five to 10 Marines andmight also provide a brief respitefor those standing watch in therain or cold. Because of theemphasis on fighting holes, theliving bunkers that Hall remem-bered had no firing apertures andsometimes a curtain of blanketwool or canvas instead of a door.Candles, shielded so they wouldnot attract Chinese fire, providedlight, and kerosene or oil stoves,vented through the roof, suppliedheat. The more elaborate livingbunkers to the rear of the mainline of resistance had electriclights, the power produced bygasoline generators.By night, during the early
OUTPOST WARU.S. Marines from the Nevada Battlesto the Armistice
by Bernard C. Nalty
Spotting targets of opportunity, a Marine crew fires its 75mm recoilless rifle directly against enemy bunkers.
National ArchivesPhoto (USMC) 127-N-A170206
A Marine packs his gear before leaving Korea following the signing of the armistice in July 1953.
National Archives Photo (USN) 80-G-626452
Department of Defense Photo (USMC) A167141
By the end of 1952, the 1st Marine Division defended a static main line of resis- tance and its outposts, fighting from trenches, covered holes, and bunkers like these manned by Company E, 2d Battalions, 7th Marines.