Today marks the 67th anniversary of the end of the Korean War. It was a war where Canadians fought alongside United Nations member countries on land, at sea, and in the air in one of the harshest conflicts.
The war began on July 25, 1950, and raged on until an armistice at Panmunjom was signed just over three years later on July 27, 1953, bringing the war to an end.
The conflict resulted in many lives lost. The war is seen as an important piece of Canada’s history.
Shortly after the Second World War, American soldiers moved into the southern half of Korea, while the Soviet-backed Chinese forces moved into the north.
Both nations withdrew, but not before a communist government was established in the north, and democratic in the south.
As tensions rose between both sides, on June 25th, 1950, soldiers from the North Korean Communist Army poured across the 38th parallel, the boundary between North and South Korea, starting the war.
Canadians joined the United Nations sending 26,000 troops, including airmen and eight destroyers. The first regiment to deploy was the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.
Some of the heaviest fighting Canadian soldiers experienced happened during the Battle of Kapyong in April 1951.
“In the Battle of Kapyong, the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry withstood a major enemy offensive, holding their defensive positions and helping stave off a serious defeat for the South Korean and United Nations forces,” stated Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs, and Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, in a press release.
They continued, “At Hill 355, roughly 40 kilometres north of Seoul, Canadians fought off waves of enemy attackers on a cold and muddy battleground on multiple occasions during the conflict, to hold this critical defensive position.”
The Chinese and Soviet-backed North fought to a standstill against the South and a U.S.-led United Nations coalition.
Korea remains Canada’s third-deadliest overseas conflict, taking the lives of 516 Canadians.
To mark the occasion, the ministers released the following statement, “From 1950 through to 1953, Canadians fought to return peace to the Korean peninsula. It was a conflict that saw Canada continue to burnish its reputation from the World Wars just years before, and the tales of steadfast bravery at places like Kapyong and Hill 355 continue to be passed on to the next generation of Canadian heroes.
“In all, more than 26,000 Canadians served during the Korean War. Hundreds were killed, more than a thousand were wounded, and untold numbers of others returned home carrying the burdens of war that they would never relinquish.
“Today, we thank them for their courage, for their sacrifice, and for their service.”