senators’ statements — Seventieth Anniversary of the Battle of Kapyong

April 20, 2021

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition)

Honourable senators, I’m honoured to pay tribute to the brave and selfless Canadians who served in the Korean War, and bring special attention to the seventieth anniversary of the historic Battle of Kapyong which took place April 23 to 25, 1951.

The Battle of Kapyong is not only one of Canada’s greatest military achievements of the Korean War; it has been heralded as a defining moment in Canadian military history — a moment where a vastly outnumbered Canadian unit made its last stand and persevered against great odds.

Although vastly outnumbered by Chinese and North Korean units, our 2nd Battalion of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Australia Regiment, the United Kingdom’s 1st Battalion Middlesex Regiment, and the 16th Field Regiment Royal New Zealand Artillery — serving collectively as the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade — thwarted a massive enemy push in the Kapyong River Valley — an offensive that, if successful, would see the recapture of Seoul, a harbinger of dire consequences for the civilians in the city and of catastrophic strategic implications for the United Nations forces in South Korea.

The Canadians fought, outnumbered, throughout the night; and never wavering, their efforts halted the communist offensive. The 2nd Patricias, along with the 3rd Royal Australian Regiment and A Company, 72nd U.S. Heavy Tank Battalion, were awarded the U.S. Presidential Unit Citation for their valour at Kapyong. No other Canadian unit has been awarded this honour before or since.

Today, these brave young men are in their late eighties, nineties, and some even in their one-hundreds — proud fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers or great-great-grandfathers. They are filled with years of experience, wisdom, love and battle scars that they have carried with them. They are changed, but they are still standing at attention ready to serve their country and honour their fallen comrades. I’ve heard so many of their stories and continue to be inspired by them. I have felt the deep love they have for Canada and for Korea and her people.

Due to Ontario’s stay-at-home order and restrictions for even outdoor events, the national seventieth anniversary of the Battle of Kapyong commemoration and other events have been cancelled. Therefore, I invite all honourable senators to take part in the virtual campaign on Friday by posting a photo of yourself holding a printed or handmade sign that reads #Kapyong70 or #RememberingKapyong; and on Saturday, April 24, at 11 a.m. Ottawa time, by joining the virtual national commemorative ceremony to mark the seventieth anniversary of the historic Battle of Kapyong. You can RSVP to the invitation for the virtual event.

Together we will ensure that the legacy of the Korean War is never forgotten. We will remember them.

[Editor’s Note: Senator Martin spoke in Korean.]