Canadian Troops in Action
In September 1950 Canada had established, in Tokyo, a
Military Mission to provide liaison with the U.N. Command. The
Mission was headed by Brigadier F. J. Fleury.* Its first major
task was to prepare the arrival of Canadian troops.
An advance party of some 350 all ranks sailed from Seattle
in the latter part of October. The intention that the main body
should go to Okinawa for further training, thence to Korea. By
the time advance party reached Japan, however, certain changes of
plan developed. In view of the prospect of early victory and an
apparent lessening in the need for further ground forces, the
immediate Canadian commitment was cut to one infantry battalion.
Okinawa for training had been dropped in favour of an area in
Korea. The advance party disembarked at Pusan on 7 November.
- The appointment was subsequently held successively by Brigadiers J. P. E. Bernatchez, A. B. Connelly, R. E. A. Morton and C. B. Ware and Colonel E. D. Elwood.
The Canadian unit selected serve in the Far East was the 2nd
Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, commanded
by Lieut.-Colonel J. R. Stone. The Patricias left Seattle on 25
November, aboard the American troopship Pvt Joe P. Martinez, and
arrived at Pusan on 18 December. Here they "staged" for nine
days, then moved to Miryang, between Pusan and Taegu. Being only
Canadian unit in the theatre, the Patricias required certain
administrative elements not normal for an infantry battalion;
hence the formation of an "Administrative Increment", for which
personnel were drawn from the CASF advance party. The remainder
of the party, less certain personnel attached to British and
American formations, rejoined the main body in North America at
the turn of the year.
During the latter half of December the Eighth Army continued
to hold its positions on the Imjin without any major contacts
being made. But the New Year opened with another crushing
offensive by the Chinese. The Eighth Army's right flank
collapsed, forcing a further general withdrawal. Seoul again
fell to the Communists on 4 January. During the next three days
the left flank pulled back to a line 40 miles south of the former
capital. This line, which was later extended to the east coast,
marked the limit of the U.N. forces' withdrawal.
While these events were taking place the newly arrived
Canadian battalion underwent such further training in weapons and
tactics as it required before being committed to battle. A
degree of realism was effected by the performance of limited
operational tasks, such as anti-guerilla patrols. These
discovered caches of ammunition and dispersed parties of enemy.
In the third week of January company exercises were carried out,
followed closely by battalion exercises.
In mid-February the Patricias moved from Miryang to join the
27th British Commonwealth Brigade in the line of battle. This
formation consisted of two British battalions - the 1st Middlesex
Regiment and the 1st Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders - and the
3rd Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment. Artillery
support was provided by the 16th New Zealand Field Regiment, and
immediate medical care by the 60th Indian Field Ambulance. The
British battalions had been the first Western troops, other than
American, in the theatre.
The Chinese winter offensive having been halted, the Eighth
Army was soon to launch another general advance towards the 38th
Parallel. In the central sector the 9th and 10th U.S. Corps were
already attacking. On 17 February, by which time it had reached
a point immediately north of Yoju, the Commonwealth Brigade
passed from operational control of the 2nd U.S. Infantry
Division (of the 10th Corps) to that of the 9th Corps. On the
same date the 2nd PPCLI, then ten miles to the south, came under
command of the Brigade. Four days later the 9th Corps regrouped,
resuming the advance with the 27th Brigade moving between the 1st
U.S. Cavalry Division (actually infantry) and the 6th ROK
The PPCLI axis followed the valley which ran north from the
village of Sangsok. The hills on either side ranged from 800 to
1400 feet. Wet snow had turned roads and tracks into quagmires,
and as the advance continued a heavy fog descended. Only minor
contacts were made during the first two days. On the third, the
battalion faced a formidable height known as Point 419; and to
the right stood a still more commanding feature (Hill 614). On
23 and 24 February Colonel Stone's companies attacked 419, but
without success; and an attempt by the 3rd RAR to take 614 also
failed. On the 27th the Australians again attacked, driving the
enemy off the higher feature and thus obliging him to quit Point
419 as well. Next day the Canadians occupied the latter.
The next noteworthy action of the 27th Brigade occurred on 7
March, at which time the Brigade was under the 1st Cavalry
Division. The objectives were Hills 410 and 532, the latter
being assigned to the Patricias. The valleys, which hitherto had
run north and south, henceforth cut across the axis of advance;
each ridge afforded the enemy a natural line of resistance. At
first it appeared that the Chinese (the 125th Division) intended
to make a determined stand. The Canadians attained only a bare
foothold on their objective. On the right, the RAR failed to
take Hill 410; and on the left a Greek battalion also suffered a
repulse. Elsewhere on the Corps front, American and South Korean
attacks were similarly unsuccessful. During the night, however,
the enemy withdrew.
In the days that followed it became apparent that the
Chinese were retiring all across the front. Seoul was liberated
by the 1st ROK Division on 16 March. Twelve days later the front
extended along a line about ten miles south of the 38th Parallel.
The 24th U.S. Infantry Division was advancing towards the
Parallel on an axis west of the Kapyong River. The Commonwealth
Brigade joined in this advance at a point five miles south of the
head of the Chojong valley. (The Chojong River flows generally
southwards into the Pukhan, as do also the Kapyong and Kuun
Rivers. The Pukhan itself continues southwards to join the Han
20 miles east of Seoul).
The mountains on either side of the Chojong rose to heights
of between 2000 and 4000 feet. The axis to which the Patricias
were allotted followed the crest line on the right. The shaded
slopes were covered with over four feet of snow, while the line
of the crest was broken by steep rock faces. The route being
impassable to vehicles, close fire support was limited to one
section of two 81-millimetre mortars. Supplies were brought
forward through the almost superhuman efforts of Korean porters.
Fortunately the Canadian battalion did not encounter any serious
resistance during this bold and arduous operation.
By the end of March the Brigade had reached the head of the
Chojong valley. It then began to advance up the valley of the
Kapyong. On 8 April the Patricias successfully attacked
objectives across the 38th Parallel. At this time almost the
entire Eighth Army front lay north of that line. As early as
28 March, in fact, South Korean troops operating along the east
coast had advanced beyond the Parallel.
Before touching on certain political issues raised by the
re-entry of the U.N. forces into North Korea, it is necessary to
turn back to November 1950.
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