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    Battle of Kapyong


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    Battle of Kapyong Empty Battle of Kapyong

    Post by mk1rceme Thu Nov 26, 2009 4:11 pm

    The Battle of Kapyong (also called Kap'yong) began 22 April and lasted until 25 April 1951. The Chinese People's Liberation Army assaulted positions held by United Nations (UN) forces from Australia, Canada and Britain. Although they were outnumbered by a factor of at least five to one, the UN units prevailed.


    In April 1951, the CPLA launched its "Fifth Phase Offensive", also known as the "Chinese Spring Offensive". This was a major effort, involving three field Armies (up to 700,000 men). The main blow fell on U.S. I Corps, but fierce resistance in battles at the Imjin river and Kapyong blunted its impetus, and the Chinese were halted at a defensive line north of Seoul known as the "No-Name Line".

    The Chinese Spring Offensive began on the evening of 22 April 1951, with the objective of recapturing Seoul. The UN positions were initially overrun by the People's 118th Division of the People's Volunteer Army, which, with vast superiority in numbers, attacked on a broad front. The defense mounted by the 27th Commonwealth Brigade ultimately halted the advance on Seoul and thwarted the plan of the communist forces to recapture the city.


    Under heavy pressure all along the front, the Korean 6th Division broke. A large number of South Koreans and Americans were forced to retreat in disarray through a gap in the line held by the Australians. The mission of the men of the 27th Commonwealth Brigade was to block the two approaches to Kapyong. In only a few hours, they managed to prepare defensive positions.

    The attack, led by the Chinese 118th Division, engaged the two forward battalions on the evening of 23 April. In the early part of the battle the 1st Battalion of the British Middlesex Regiment and the 16th Field Regiment of the Royal New Zealand Artillery were all but cut off. The resistance of forward positions, held by the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (2 PPCLI), and the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR), permitted the 1st Battalion, Middlesex Regiment to withdraw. It moved into place to provide a reserve.

    The initial Chinese attack at Kapyong engaged 3RAR on Hill 504. The Chinese then struck at the Canadian front. Wave after wave of massed Chinese troops kept up the attack throughout the night of 23 April, but the Canadians held them back. After a night of fierce fighting, Major Bernard O'Dowd, Officer Commanding, A Company, 3 RAR, managed to get through on a radio phone to a general of the 1st U.S. Marine Division. The general was incredulous, thinking it was an enemy agent speaking. He told O'Dowd that the unit no longer existed, that it had been wiped out the night before. O'Dowd replied "I've got news for you. We're still here and we're staying here."

    The Chinese had managed to infiltrate the brigade position by the morning of 23 April. The Australians and Canadians were facing the whole of the Chinese 118th Division. Throughout 24 April the battle was unrelenting. It devolved, on both fronts, into hand-to-hand combat with bayonet charges. The Australians, facing encirclement, were ordered to make an orderly fall back to new defensive positions late in the day of 24 April. 2 PPCLI was completely surrounded. Captain Mills, in command of D Company, 2 PPCLI, called down artillery fire on his own positions on Hill 677 several times during the early morning hours of 25 April for the Canadians to avoid being overrun. It had to be resupplied by air drops during this desperate time. By dawn the Chinese attack on the Canadian position had abated, and in the afternoon of 25 April the road through to the Canadians had been cleared of Chinese, at which time the Canadians were relieved.

    The 16th Field Regiment, Royal New Zealand Artillery, also managed to withdraw and link up with the U.S. Army's 72nd Heavy Tank Battalion. These units provided close heavy gun support.

    Also, during the withdrawal of the Australians, 4 men from B Company, 3RAR, formed a rearguard to hold off any flanking attacks. The Australians held off 3 waves of Chinese soldiers, consisting of roughly 200 men in each wave, killing at least 25 and wounding many more. For this, Ray Parry was awarded the Military Medal for his courageous leadership.


    Despite their enormous advantage in numbers the Chinese troops had been badly outgunned. They could not overcome the trained, disciplined and well-armed Australians and Canadians. The battlefield was littered with the corpses of Chinese soldiers, a testament to the discipline and firepower of the defenders.

    Australian losses were 32 killed, 59 wounded and 3 captured; Canadian losses were 10 killed and 23 wounded; New Zealanders had 2 killed and 5 wounded. The Chinese losses are estimated at over 1,000 killed and an unknown number of wounded.

    For their brilliant conduct of this engagement, Lieutenant-Colonel Bruce Ferguson of Australia and Lieutenant-Colonel James R. Stone of Canada were each awarded the Distinguished Service Order. For Stone, it was the second bar to the DSO he had first won at the Battle of Ortona in Italy in 1943.

    Three units, 2 PPCLI, 3RAR and "A" Company of the 72nd Heavy Tank Battalion, United States Army were awarded both the United States Presidential Unit Citation and South Korean Presidential Unit Citation for their actions during the Battle of Kapyong.


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