Canadians in the Korean War

Canadians in the Korean War

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3224880)

Major-General M.M. Alston-Roberts-West, G.O.C. 1st Commonwealth Division, thanking personnel of the 1st Battalion, RCR, on completion of the unit's service in the Far East, 22 March 1953.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3524492)

Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, RCR in Korea, with captured Chinese weapons, (Front, L-R): Ptes. E.J. Paquette, Bill Brayley, (Centre, L-R): Ptes, Raymond Schiedel, Cliff Bertrom, L/Cpl. Ernie Lounsby, 3 November 1951. The two men in front are holding Degtyaryov DP-27 machine-guns, the five in the back are holding PPS-43 7.62-mm submachine-guns.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4929234)

Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent visits 3rd Bn, RCR, at the rifle range in Korea. Major Jenkins in command, March 1954.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3600137)

PPCLI snipers in Korea, March 1953.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4939527)

PPCLI Scouts and Sniper Platoon, Korea, ca 1953.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3199590)

1st Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment presenting arms as U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower arrives for a visit to Korea.  During the presidential campaign of 1952, Republican candidate Eisenhower was critical of the Truman administration’s foreign policy, particularly its inability to bring an end to the conflict in Korea.  President Truman challenged Eisenhower on 24 October to come up with an alternate policy.  Eisenhower responded with the startling announcement that if he were elected, he would personally go to Korea to get a firsthand view of the situation.  The promise boosted Eisenhower’s popularity and he handily defeated Democratic candidate Adlai E. Stevenson.  Shortly after his election, Eisenhower fulfilled his campaign pledge, and as shown here, went to Korea.

After taking office, Eisenhower adopted a get-tough policy toward the communists in Korea.  He suggested that he would “unleash” the Nationalist Chinese forces on Taiwan against communist China, and he sent only slightly veiled messages that he would use any force necessary (including the use of nuclear weapons) to bring the war to an end unless peace negotiations began to move forward.  The Chinese, exhausted by more than two years of war, finally agreed to terms and an armistice was signed on 27 July 1953.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3199043)

Changeover parade in Korea, 2nd Battalion to 1st Battalion PPCLI. Watching the band are (L.-R.:) 1st Bn CO LCol N.G. Wilson-Smith, Brigade Commander Brigadier J.M. Rockingham, 2nd Bn CO LCol Jim Stone, 5 November 1951.

On 15 August 1950, following the invasion of the Republic of Korea (ROK or South Korea) by the Chinese Communist-dominated North Korea, the Second Battalion of the Regiment was formed as part of the Canadian Army Special Force. On the same date, the serving unit was designated First Battalion. The Second Battalion trained at Sarcee (in Calgary), Wainwright and Fort Lewis, USA. On 25 November 1950 under the command of LCol J.R. Stone, DSO, MC, the battalion sailed from Seattle on the USNS Private Joe P. Martinez bound for Pusan, South Korea.

On 30 November 1950, a Third Battalion of the Regiment was formed. This battalion trained in Wainwright, Camp Borden and Ipperwash, Ontario. It provided replacements for both the First and Second Battalions during their tours of duty in Korea.

The Second Battalion arrived in Korea on 8 December and spent the next eight weeks undergoing training in mountain warfare and small unit tactics. On 6 February 1951, Second Battalion joined the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade, IX Corps, U.S. Eighth Army and became the first Canadian infantry battalion to be involved in the Korean conflict.

On 22 April 1951, the Chinese began a major offensive against the United Nations Forces. The Chinese immediately broke through the first line of defences, held by the 6th ROK Division. All that stood between the Chinese army and the South Korean capital of Seoul was 2 PPCLI, Third Battalion Royal Australian Regiment and A Company 72nd US Heavy Tank Regiment. All three units were tasked to defend the Kapyong Valley. The Chinese attacked in overwhelming force and eventually managed to push the Australians off their position. Second Battalion was then cut-off but held off the Chinese forces and by doing so saved Seoul and countless UN lives. In recognition of “outstanding heroism and exceptionally meritorious conduct,” a United States Presidential Unit Citation was awarded to Second Battalion, the Australians and the American tank company for their actions at Kapyong on 24-25 April 1951.

On 25 May 1951, Second Battalion was transferred to the 25th Canadian Infantry Brigade, 1st Commonwealth Division. The Second Battalion was relieved in Korea by the First Battalion in the fall of 1951 and returned to Calgary to take over the airborne role.

The Third Battalion relieved the First Battalion in Korea in the fall of 1952 and was occupying Hill 355, “Little Gibraltar,” when the Korean War ended on 27 July 1953. After twelve months on active service, 3 PPCLI was reduced to nil strength on 8 January 1954. The CO, RSM, and selected others transferred to the Second Battalion, Canadian Guards, to form the nucleus of the new unit. Third Battalion would not be reactivated again until April 1970 when the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada (QOR of C) was reverted to Militia. The QOR of C’s 1st Battalion, based in Victoria, B.C., became 3 PPCLI. (https://ppcli.com/ppcli-museum-description/regimental-history/korea/)

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4476730)

2nd Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry in combat area, Korea.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3509558)

The morning after a hard fought battle, a Royal 22nd Regiment mortar platoon is ready to fire, November 1951.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3405766)

Personnel of Baker Company, 3rd Battalion, Royal 22e Regiment manning machine gun, Korea, 18 June 1953.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4235621)

Personnel of the Royal 22e Regiment on a familiarization tour in Korea, c1953.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4235617)

Personnel of the Royal 22e Regiment on a familiarization tour in Korea, c1953.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3199116)

Royal Canadian Corps of Signals (RCCS) in Korea. Lt. Paul Ranger checks Pte. Jean-Guy Lacroix's wireless set as he prepares for night patrol with soft shoes, dark clothing and a black face make-up, 14 June 1952.

(RCA Museum Photo)

RCA 25-pounder field gun in action in Korea, 1952.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3397764)

Personnel of the 2nd Battalion, PPCLI, crossing the Imjin River in assault boats, Korea, 6 June 1951.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4235604)

Canadian M4A3(76)W HVSS Sherman tanks (most likely LdSH), in Korea.  A, B and C Squadrons LdSH fought independently in Korea from 19 April 1951 to 27 July 1953 as part of the 25th Canadian Infantry Brigade Group, 1st Commonwealth Division.  D Squadron was from the Royal Canadian Dragoons.  All four Squadrons were equipped with M4A3(76)W HVSS Sherman tanks.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, PA115496)

Canadian Sherman M4A3(76)W HVSS tank "Catherine", B Sqn, LdSH (RC), Imjin River, Korea, 16 July 1952.  The tanks came from US Army stocks.  Canadians also deployed M10s in Korea.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3607685)

M3A3 Stuart Recce AFV, Italy, 5 Feb 1945.

(Stan Lucian, Tanks Encyclopedia Photo)

C Squadron Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) in the snow during the Korean War.

A Squadron Tanks had triangle markings on the side of the turret, B Squadron had square markings and C Squadron had circle markings. The inside was painted black to cover up the US White five pointed star.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3524711)

Dismantling Canadian Line Positions, General view of the Royal Canadian Regiment, 'Baker' Company area, being cleared out. In foreground, a Lord Strathcona Horse Sherman tank. Korea, 28 July 1953.

(Stan Lucian, Tanks Encyclopedia Photo).

Canadian Sherman M4A3(76)W HVSS tank "Dalmatian", Royal Canadian Dragoon’s D Squadron in Korea.  D Squadron was a mixed unit but their Sherman tanks had spare tracks fitted onto the Sherman’s turret, where the Squadron marker would normally be painted. A ‘lazy D’ symbol was painted on the rear of the turret instead. The D was turned 90 degrees. The curve of the D at the bottom and the straight line of the D at the top.

(Army Signal Corps Collection, U.S. National Archives. Photo No. SC 398704).

M4A3E8 Sherman Tank of Company B, 72nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, US Army firing its 76-mm gun at enemy bunkers on "Napalm Ridge", in support of the 8th ROK Division, 11 May 1952. Note the prepared firing position, with ammunition cases piled at left, and sandbags piled on the tank hull's rear upper surfaces.  Canadians tanks fought in similar circumstances.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3883681)

Canadian Sherman M4A3(76)W HVSS tank in a mine crater with damaged running gear, Koreaca 1952.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3883687)

Canadian Sherman M4A3(76)W HVSS tank in a mine crater with damaged running gear, Koreaca 1952.

(Stan Lucian, Tanks Encyclopedia Photo)

Canadian Sherman M4A3(76)W HVSS tank "Argyle II", Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians), 2nd Armoured Regiment, Royal Canadian Armoured Corps (RCAC) in Korea.


(Stan Lucian, Tanks Encyclopedia Photo)

Canadian Sherman M4A3(76)W HVSS tank "Cheetah", C Squadron, LdSH (RC) in Korea.  There is a White Star visible under the circle Squadron identity marker painted on top.

(Stan Lucian, Tanks Encyclopedia Photo)

Canadian Sherman M4A3(76)W HVSS tanks of A Squadron, Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians), 2nd Armoured Regiment in Korea.

(Stan Lucian, Tanks Encyclopedia Photo)

Canadian Sherman M4A3(76)W HVSS tank, Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians), 2nd Armoured Regiment, Royal Canadian Armoured Corps (RCAC) in Korea.

(Stan Lucian, Tanks Encyclopedia Photo)

Canadian Sherman M4A3(76)W HVSS tanks of A Squadron, Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians), 2nd Armoured Regiment in Korea.




(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3780239)

C SQN Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians), M32B3 VVSS armoured recovery vehicle (ARV) operations on the Imjim River, Korea, 25 July 1951.  The ARV's name is "CONTENTENTED COW", commanded by RCEME Sgt Gord Hunter.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3780241)

Canadian recovery operations on the Imjim River, Korea, 25 July 1951.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3780243)

Canadian recovery operations on the Imjim River, Korea, 25 July 1951.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3524574)

Canadian personnel of the 1st Commonwealth Division competing in jeep rally. (Left to right): Pte. Bill Murphy, L/Cpl. Thomas Latta, Lt. Don Laut. Korea, 23 June 1954

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3524575)

Canadian personnel of the 1st Commonwealth Division competing in jeep rally. Left to right: Pte. Frank Bevins, Lt. Edward Blake, Cpl. Herb Read, Korea, 23 June 1954.

(DND Photo)

Canadair CL-2 North Star Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. 17511), No. 426 Squadron, with cargo being unloaded in Tokyo, Japan by American troops during the Korean War.

(DND Photo)

The crew of a Canadair CL-2 North Star, No. 426 Squadron, unloading baggage at Haneda Air Base near Tokyo after a flight from McChord Field.  The Canadian contribution to the air effort during the Korean War began early in the war when 426 Transport Squadron was attached to the USAF’s Military Air Transport Service.  It moved to McChord Air Force Base in Washington to carry out its duties.  The squadron flew Canadair 12 “war strength” North Stars (similar to the C-54GM), on 599 round trips over the north Pacific, transporting 13,000 personnel and three million kilograms of freight and mail to Japan.  There, cargo was offloaded for onward transit to Korea.  The intense, challenging route, which involved long legs over open water, terrible weather and a treacherous landing strip at the midway point in Alaska, took them perilously close to the Soviet Union.  Although there were some close calls and incidents, there were no fatalities and no cargo was lost during the airlift.  (RCAF in Korea, 1950-1953)

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3207657)

RCN in the Korean War, No. 2 Sam Pan Boarding Party on HMCS Nootka. Front row: L/STO D. McCoy, LT/CDR F.P.R. Saunders, ABSM M. Messervey, L/SCV W.F. Wickson. At the back: ABTD W. Murray, LSCR G. Mason, LSCR R. Hornecastle, ABCR J. MacKinnon, 7 July 1952. The boarding party is armed with a Bren Gun and Lanchester sub-machine guns.

The Lanchester is a submachine gun (SMG) manufactured by the Sterling Armaments Company between 1941 and 1945. It is a copy of the German MP28/II and was manufactured in two versions, Mk.1 and Mk.1*; the latter was a simplified version of the original Mk.1, with no fire selector and simplified sights. It was primarily used by the Royal Navy during the Second World War, and the RCN in Korea. It was also used by RAF Regiment (for airfield protection. It was given the general designation of Lanchester after George Herbert Lanchester, who was charged with producing the weapon at the Sterling Armaments Company.The Lanchester is an open-bolt, self-loading blowback-operated weapon with a selective-fire option (located in front of the trigger) on early versions. A tubular receiver was attached to the front of the wooden stock, which could be pivoted barrel down for maintenance and disassembly. The wooden stock was patterned after that of Lee–Enfield rifle, and a bayonet lug centred below the muzzle accepted the Pattern 1907 sword-bayonet as used on the Lee–Enfield No. 1 Mk. III* (previously called the S.M.L.E.)

It used a straight 50-round magazine containing 9×19mm Parabellum cartridges (special pouches were produced to hold three magazines each) which fit into the magazine housing from the left, with spent cartridges ejected on the right. It was interchangeable with the shorter 32-round Sten magazine. A magazine lo ading tool was needed to load both 32- and 50-round magazines more easily. One of the two magazine pouches had a special pocket on the front for this loader. Mk.1s featured a front blade sight with adjustable rifle-type sights, marked between 100 and 600 yards. Mk.1* featured a much simplified flip-up sight marked 100 or 200 yards.
Manual safety is made in the form of locking cut, made in the receiver, which engages the bolt handle to lock bolt in open (cocked) position. It proved notoriously susceptible to accidental discharge if the weapon were dropped. For cleaning, the weapon had a brass oiler bottle and pull through held inside the butt stock (similar to the Lee–Enfield rifle).

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3201854)

Able Seaman Armand Therien of the Royal Canadian Navy Beach Commandos, armed with a Lanchester sub-machine gun, England, 20 July 1944.

 (USN Photo)

HMCS Athabaskan (R79), off the Korean coast, ca 1950.  The last of her class to be completed, "Athabee" was commissioned at Halifax on 20 Jan 1948, and sailed in mid-May 1948 for the west coast, where she trained new entries and officer cadets until the outbreak of the Korean War.  She sailed from Esquimalt on 05 Jul 1950, for the first of three tours of duty in Korean waters, returning 11 Dec 1953, from the last of them.

(Steven Hlasny Photo)

HMCS Athabaskan (219), off the Korean coast, ca 1950.

(Bob Theriault Photo)

HMCS Cayuga (218), Korea, 1950.

(RCN Photo)

HMCS Haida (G63), 16 March 1949.  She gained entry in the Trainbusters Club, destroying a Chinese supply train and engine off Tanch’on, South Korea.

(RCN Photo)

HMCS Sioux (R64) (V-class).  Laid down as HMS Vixen, she was commissioned HMCS Sioux at Cowes, Isle of Wight, on 21 Feb 1944, and assigned to the 26th Flotilla of the British Home Fleet.  She took part in escorting carrier attacks against the Tirpitz and against German shipping off Norway, and on 28 May 1944 left Scapa for Portsmouth for D-Day duties, bombarding shore targets on the Normandy coast.  Returning to Scapa Flow in Jul 1944, she resumed her previous occupation and also escorted four convoys each way to and from Murmansk.

She left the UK on 6 Apr 1945, for her first trip to Canada and, upon arrival underwent a major refit at Halifax.  In Nov 1945 Sioux was transferred to Esquimalt, where she was paid off into reserve on 27 Feb 1946.  After some modernization she was re-commissioned (225) in 1950, and did three tours of duty in Korean waters, from 1951 to 1955.  Following her Korean tours, she returned to her training role.

(Stuart Lory Photo)

HMCS Athabaskan (219), left, and HMCS Crusader (228), at a jetty in Kure, Japan.  HMCS Crusader had been in Korean waters for eight months, while HMCS Athabaskan was on her third tour of Korean duty.