June 27, 1953, brought an end to the third deadliest conflict in Canadian military history. Lasting only three years, the Korean War resulted in many brave Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members losing lives and forever made its mark on Canadian history.
Not long after the Second World War, the Soviet Union took hold of North Korea while the United States moved into South Korea. Though both nations eventually withdrew, they left behind a communist government in the north and democratic government in the south.
Tensions continued between the two countries until June 25, 1950, when North Korea crossed the 38th Parallel into South Korea, officially marking the start of the war.
The Korean War was the first time the United Nations, newly formed after the Second World War, made a decision to use force against an aggressor.
Canadian soldiers heeded the call and took part in the United Nations force against North Korea. More than 26,000 Canadians served in the Korean War including sailors from eight destroyers and airmen who took part in many combat and transport missions. It is reported that Canada’s military contribution was larger, in proportion to its population, than the other UN nations taking part.
During the course of the war, 516 Canadian soldiers lost their lives.
An Armistice at Panmunjom brought the conflict to an end on July 27, 1953.
The gallant contributions of the CAF were decidedly noted when the PPCLI became Canada’s only battalion in history to win U.S. Presidential Unit Citation for valour.
“Rising from occupation and ruin, the Republic of Korea today shines as a thriving, modern country, whose people can take comfort in knowing that the commitment of the United States to their stability and security will never waver. Fifty million South Koreans now live in freedom, reaching for their dreams and pursuing opportunities in a vibrant democracy and dynamic economy always realizing they have a partner who will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them in defence of peace and prosperity. Our lasting friendship and unbreakable alliance are sustained by the beliefs we hold in common and the values we cherish,” stated U.S. President Barrack Obama on the occasion of the National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day 2016.
Featured photos: Left: Stove made of assorted empty metal ammunition cases receives final check-up before being installed in the dugout, January 1952.
Photo: Library and Archives PA 18462. Right: A company of the Princes Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry moves in single file across rice paddies as it advances on enemy positions across the valley, March 1951. Photo: Library and Archives PA-171228