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60 years ago: north invaded south.

I was asked to write an article for this issue to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War. After much consideration on my part (what is there to say to that hasn't already been told?), I read a speech made on April 29th in the Canadian Senate by Senator Yonah Martin of British Columbia. The senator was so emotional that some of my comrades who were present reported that she was sometimes in tears. I feel that, rather than my humble ramblings, the senator's words would be appropriate to the occasion. Following is the first of two parts of Senator Martin's motion to have July 27 annually recognized as National Korean War Veterans Day. ~ Les Peate

Honourable senators, with deepest respect and gratitude to our honoured veterans of the Korean War, including the veterans and their families present in our chamber today, I rise to draw your attention to the motion in my name that the Senate recognize and endorse July 27 annually as National Korean Veterans Day.

The armistice signed on July 27, 1953, ended the three-year military conflict but did not bring an end to the civil war. Canadians from coast to coast to coast pause on November 11 of each year to remember those who have served our nation during times of war and peace. In order for Canadians of all generations to truly understand the service and sacrifice of our armed forces, we must capture the significance of Remembrance Day and extend our commemorative activities and events throughout the year, such as Vimy Ridge Day, April 9; Liberation of Holland Day, May 5; and Merchant Navy Day, September 3.

I would like to add that at this approximate time, on this day and in honour of our veterans, MLA Harry Bloy, the government liaison to the Korean community of British Columbia, is speaking in the Victoria Legislature to proclaim June 25, 2010, as the 60th Anniversary of the breakout of the war.

To veterans Mr. Terry Wickens, Mr. Gordon Strathy, Mr. Al Tobio, Mr. Bill Black and Mr. Alex MacDonald and all veterans of the Korean War, I owe them my very existence, as do my parents and every person of Korean descent in the world today. On behalf of all of us, please accept our deepest gratitude to you, our unsung heroes of democracy and freedom, and for the sacrifices of your fallen and departed comrades.


We sincerely thank you.

The Korean War was a result of the political division of the Korean Peninsula by agreement of the victorious allies at the end of World War II. At the Potsdam Conference in July and August 1945, without consulting the Korean people, the allies unilaterally decided to divide Korea, a clear violation of the Cairo Conference.

Korea had been ruled by Japan prior to the end of the war. In 1945, following the surrender of Japan, the peninsula was divided along the thirty-eighth parallel with the United States troops occupying the southern part and Soviet troops occupying the northern part. The failure to hold free elections throughout the Korean Peninsula in 1948 deepened the division between the two sides with the 38th parallel becoming the de facto political border between the two Koreas.

Although reunification negotiations continued in the months preceding the war, tension intensified. Cross-border skirmishes and raids at the thirty-eighth parallel persisted and escalated into open warfare when North Korean forces invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950. International reaction was swift. The United Nations Security Council met on the same day and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities. As the day wore on and North Korean forces pressed onward, it became clear that they did not intend to comply with the United Nations demands.

A second UN resolution called on the members to "furnish such assistance to the Republic of Korea as may be necessary to repel the armed attack and to restore international peace and security in the area." Over the following days and weeks, member states committed their troops, Canada included.

Despite having no special national interest in the Far East and with armed forces just large enough to protect domestic interests, Canadians answered the call of duty. The first Canadian aid to the desperate UN forces was answered by the Royal Canadian Navy. The fact that Korea is a peninsula offered unusual scope for naval support. Eight ships of the Royal Canadian Navy joined their UN and Republic of Korea navy colleagues, performing a great variety of tasks. In addition to blockading the enemy coast and supporting the UN land forces, they protected the friendly islands and brought aid and comfort to the sick and needy in isolated fishing villages.

I wish to make note of my support of Senator Segal's motion in support of our fine Canadian Navy in its centennial anniversary in 2010, whose legacy includes the important contributions it made during the Korean War.

Following the Canadian Navy, later in June of 1950, a squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force was assigned to transport duties with the UN. By August, it had become clear that the Korean crisis had deepened. The Canadian government authorized the recruitment of the Canadian Army Special Force (CASF) to carry out Canada's UN obligations. In December 1950, the 2nd Battalion of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry landed in Korea, and in May, the CASF followed.

On the sea, in the air, on the ground, in the hills--through some of the most intense fighting and the worst conditions, against great odds, resilient, valiant--Canadians were there to make a difference.

During the battle of Kap'yong, Canadians were there, heavily outnumbered and surrounded, the brave soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, along with their Australian comrades, endured fierce night fighting to prevent the Chinese breakthrough that would have seen the recapture of Seoul.

During the battle of Chail-Li, Canadians were there. The newly-arrived Canadian battalions were deployed in support of the U.S. 25th Division assault along the Ponchon River. In the course of this operation, the Royal Canadian Regiment launched an attack upon the village of Chail-li and a neighbouring hill. The attack was successful, perhaps too successful, as the brigade's advance had created a deep salient in the enemy lines and the units, without protection on the flanks, were forced to withdraw.

During the battle of Hill 187, Canadians were there. The 3rd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment withstood a strong enemy assault on its position on Hill 187. The attack was repulsed, but the engagement cost the Canadians heavy casualties--26 lulled, 27 wounded and 7 taken prisoner.

During the battle of Hill 355, Canadians were there as the Chinese launched another series of attacks in one engagement against the Royal 22nd Regiment positioned at the focal point on Hill 355, an important feature that dominated most of the divisional front. During the night of November 23 to 24, the Royal 22nd Regiment was attacked several times after heavy shelling, but no ground was lost, even when one of their forward platoons had been dislodged and another surrounded.

Just days before the ceasefire, at the "Hook," they stood and died alongside their UN comrades against wave after wave of Chinese attacks attempted to remove them from their position.

Next month, the conclusion of Senator Martin's motion.
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Title Annotation:Senator Yonah Martin's motion to have July 27 annually recognized as National Korean War Veterans Day
Publication:Esprit de Corps
Article Type:Speech
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jun 1, 2010
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