Digging trenches was also included as part of the competition. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)
Their medical skills were tested and an individual had to be strapped to a stretcher and carried to safety. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)
Since it was a competition, soldiers had to work together. The winning platoon was given a trophy. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)
In honour of the Taskforce’s name, personnel were given the chance to see how good their aim was with the tomahawk. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)
Battle of Hill 355 commemorated by 1 RCR
By Patricia Leboeuf
Posted on Thursday, November 2, 2017
Remembering the Battle of Hill 355 reconnected the soldiers of 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment (1 RCR) to a significant part of their military history.
“Royals really haven’t changed in the past 40 years,” said Lieutenant Colonel Steve MacBeth.
Korean War Veteran Elburn Duffy attested to that.
On Oct. 20, he was invited to oversee 1 RCR’s annual competition held in honour of the Battle of Hill 355. He pointed out that much of the day’s activities were exactly the same as what he did.
The special competition is meant to increase mental and physical toughness while reflecting on the sacrifices made during the Korean War.
“There is a line you can draw from people like Corporal Duffy to the Corporals that we have today,” said LCol MacBeth. “A Canadian soldier is a Canadian soldier, but it is important that they remember.”
There is a long history of professionalism, honour, sacrifice, and duty; once a Royal, always a Royal.
“We did the job required,” said Duffy about his time in Korea.
More than 26,000 Canadians served during the Korean War. Known as “Kowang San” to the Koreans, Hill 355 is where many Canadians defended the front lines and pushed back heavy enemy assaults.
Though the Canadian troops were successful at reoccupying this important position, 18 soldiers were killed, 35 wounded and 14 were taken prisoner. A total of 516 soldiers died during the Korean War.
“Far too often the Korean War is known as the forgotten war and that is simply unacceptable,” said Captain Josh MacAulay, “because many soldiers gave their lives during this conflict and the regiment fought many significant battles. We cannot let their sacrifice be forgotten. We should aspire to the level of soldiering and heroism conducted by 1 RCR.”
The Korean War spanned from June 25, 1950, to July 27, 1953, when North Korea invaded South Korea with the help of China and the Soviet Union. They quickly made their way to Seoul, which fell in about a week. They then pushed their way towards the port of Pusan and it seemed as though a North Korean victory was imminent.
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) asked its members to join South Korea and push back the North Korean Army to the 38th Parallel.
With the help of the UNSC soldiers, the North Korean army was pushed back to the Chinese border. Those who hadn’t been captured or escaped were now trapped, resulting in North Korea’s collapse, retreat, and defeat. That is until China directly committed its troops to the war and the country launched a massive assault that captured Seoul. Eventually, the Chinese were pushed North past the 38th Parallel. The front lines were now a tough, mountainous terrain where both sides dug in, refusing to give an inch.
The Chinese attack for Hill 355 began on Oct. 23, 1952.
Under heavy assault and with communications cut off, some of the Canadians had to abandon their position as artillery rained down upon both sides. The position, however, was recaptured in the early hours of Oct. 24, but not without a heavy toll.
“We have to consider the sacrifices of that day,” said LCol MacBeth. “We have to consider the commitment to soldiering that it takes.”
After a year of more battles and skirmishes, a cease-fire was established on July 27, 1953, and a demilitarized zone was created around the 38th Parallel. Canada remained in South Korea to ensure peace.