Pictures from the personal collection of Bevin Alexander, who commanded the 5th Historical Detachment in the Korean War. Click here >>
Pictures taken during the Korean War 1950-53 and reproduced in Bevin Alexander’s Korea: The First War We Lost. Click here >>
Shortly after the Korean War started, the U.S. Army began the activation and development of eight Historical Detachments to prepare and collect historical materials devoted to the operations during the war. The youngest of those detachment commanders was Bevin Alexander.
The Historical Detachments were conceived in World War II by Brigadier General S.L.A. (Slam) Marshall. He felt that warfare was not being conveyed realistically to posterity because most accounts were produced long after a war by persons who had no direct connection with or understanding of the war, its feel, or the experiences of the participants. He believed that combat historians should talk to commanders before a battle, accompany troops in a battle, see as much as possible personally during a battle, and interview survivors as to their actual experiences after a battle.
A few Historical Detachments went into action in the last stages of the war in Europe. One detachment commander, William J. Fox, was with the first American troops to meet the most forward Soviet elements at Torgau, Germany, on April 25, 1945. As an army major, Fox also commanded a Historical Detachment in Korea. Other detachment commanders in Korea were Majors Pierce W. Briscoe, Billy C. Mossman, and Edward Williamson, Captain Martin Blumenson, and Lieutenants Edgar Denton and John Mewha. Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Daley and Major Robert Fechtman served in the detachments in administrative capacities. Bevin Alexander was the youngest of the detachment commanders. He instantly acquired the nickname “Baby-san” when Fox, Briscoe, and he arrived from the United States in May 1951 at Eighth Army’s Historical Section which remained in Yokohama, Japan.