TOKYO -- Allied forces gave up their defense perimeter north of burning Seoul in a southward withdrawal today and a correspondent from the Korean capital reported that it had been given over to looters and the Communist underground.
Field dispatches reported that the United Nations 8th Army fell back in miles-long columns from positions on the northern approaches to Seoul while Chinese troops waited at its gates to occupy the city.
The retreating Allied rear guard, bringing up the rear of bumper-to-bumper withdrawal traffic streaming through the dead city, was out of touch with the vanguard of the powerful Chinese Army poised outside Seoul.
Capture set today
United Press correspondent Gene Symonds reported from Seoul that the Chinese "probably will be here today."
George Herman, correspondent for the Columbia Broadcasting System, flew out of Seoul at midnight. He reported that Communist artillery shells were falling on the northern outskirts of the city, and it had been given over to looters and underground's staying behind to greet the Red Army.
The city was full of conflicting rumors, Herman said. The Communists were reported as near as two miles from Seoul. The last previous report said they were six miles from it.
UN Commission Goes
Divisional command posts inside Seoul could be reached by streetcar, Herman reported. He said the Chinese business section was destroyed by one of the many fires casting a lurid glare on the dome of the capital building.
A State Department plane took the United Nations Commission from Kimpo Airport outside Seoul to another Korean base when the commission's own plane failed to arrive, Herman said.
He said that as he left by plane he could see Allied and Communist artillery dueling. He also saw flashes from the Inchon Harbor area southwest of Seoul, but could not tell whether they were from artillery or naval guns.
As the United Nations troops and Korean population scrambled to evacuate doomed Seoul, Communist forces headed by Mongolian cavalry swept down the east coast of Korea in a breakthrough offensive aimed at cutting in behind the main Allied army withdrawing below Seoul.
The eastern offensive had carried at least 18 miles out of the 38th Parallel, and fighting was reported nearly 30 miles below the old border. Gen. Douglas MacArthur's headquarters said the Reds might be aiming at the key transport center of Wonju, 53 miles southeast of Seoul and 45 miles south of the parallel.
Lt. Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway's hard pressed 8th Army gave up its defense perimeter north of Seoul after fierce Communist assaults Wednesday, and early today was making an orderly withdrawal, United Press correspondent Joe Quinn reported from Seoul at 2 a.m.
By 5 p.m. Wednesday the roads running south from the stricken capital were miles deep with bumper-to-bumper traffic, Quinn reported.
The withdrawal from the northern approaches of Seoul began after the Communists ripped into the U.S. 24th and 25th Division sectors above the capital Wednesday, charging forward in waves with sub-machine guns and grenades.