Triumph at Kapyong

Triumph at Kapyong Afghanistan is not Canada s first war in Asia We ve been there before a half century ago in Korea And it was a meat grinder scarcely remembered now a war in which on one hilltop on one April night

  • Title: Triumph at Kapyong
  • Author: Dan Bjarnason
  • ISBN: 9781280577192
  • Page: 499
  • Format: ebook
  • Afghanistan is not Canada s first war in Asia We ve been there before, a half century ago in Korea And it was a meat grinder, scarcely remembered now a war in which on one hilltop, on one April night, freshly minted Canadians soldiers made a desperate stand that prevented catastrophe In all, twenty five thousand Canadians fought in Korea By the time the shooting stoppeAfghanistan is not Canada s first war in Asia We ve been there before, a half century ago in Korea And it was a meat grinder, scarcely remembered now a war in which on one hilltop, on one April night, freshly minted Canadians soldiers made a desperate stand that prevented catastrophe In all, twenty five thousand Canadians fought in Korea By the time the shooting stopped, than five hundred had been killed on lonely hilltops and in desolate ravines Five hundred in only two years In Canada s war in Korea, there were no Vimy Ridges or Normandys In Korea, Canadians were shot down in their fours and fives mostly, on patrols and in ambushes It was largely a war at night in small groups But not always There were sometimes terrifying battles where outposts were swamped by Chinese human wave attacks This is the story of one such battle Canada s first in Korea, in April 1951, on a barren and rocky hill near a nothing village called Kapyong on the edge of nowhere It s the story of 700 men, all volunteers, in the 2nd Batallion of Princess Patricia s Canadian Light Infantry They d signed up specifically to fight in Korea and now on this April night, they found themselves surrounded by thousands of Chinese soldiers sweeping around their positions In April 1951, the Chinese launched an offensive plunging straight for the South Korean capital, Seoul Other allied positions collapsed around the Canadians Only the lonely Patricias blocked the road And now it was their turn for the Chinese treatment The Patricias had the wrong weapons and were trained in the wrong tactics for this war Most were utter amateurs This was a true People s Army cab drivers, lumberjacks, farm boys and adventurers They were up against a seasoned enemy, better armed and with immense battle savvy, fresh from their victories in the Chinese Civil War And yet in a terrifying battle in the dark that had the feel of Thermopylae with several hundred against several thousand, with hand to hand fighting with bayonet s and shovels, with foxholes lost and retaken, with calling down artillery fire on their own positions, they held The Patricia s that night changed the course the war could have taken Kapyong is about what did not happen The Canadian positions did not collapse Kapyong did not fall Seoul was not captured The Chinese breakthrough went nowhere And so, the Korean War did not end abruptly in April 1951 For the Chinese, Kapyong had simply been too much By dawn they had abandoned the field Incredibly, the Patricia s casualties were ten dead and 23 wounded Chinese dead, although unknown, must have been in the many hundreds At no point had there been talk among the Canadians of breaking out they had simply decided to tough it out on their hilltop The Kapyong story sparkles with qualities that Canadians believe make up their national character sacrifice, courage, initiative, modesty and an uncomplicated rock solid belief in themselves It is the story of the Patricias cool and cranky commander, James Stone, a World War Two veteran of the Italian campaign who applied his mountain warfare savvy to the wilds of Korea It s the story of Ken Barwise, who single handedly recaptured a lost machine gun from the Chinese It s the story of Smiley Douglas who reached for a live grenade which landed in the midst of his platoon It exploded just as he tossed it free, blowing off his hand It s the story of Michael Levy, who had fought as a teenager against the Japanese in Malaya as a guerrilla At Kapyong he was the heroic platoon commander who called in artillery on his own position The Patricias survived because they believed they were the best soldiers on the hill that night They bet their lives on it They won the bet.

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