The Battle of Kapyong

The Australians were part of a force that was defending the Kapyong Valley, some 56 km north of Seoul, during April 1951. A human sea (of Chinese troops) descended on the UN line which forced the South Korean and American units to retreat past the line partly held by the Australians. By 10 pm on April 23rd, the Australian 27th and 29th Brigades were facing the Chinese 118 division.

By midnight, the battle was in full rage. Wave after wave of Chinese soldiers flung themselves at the Australian defenders. The Chinese bugles rang through the night and into the day; with each new screeching another wave of sacrifices were offered by the Chinese troops. Few survived and the battle field was cluttered with a sea of drab grey corpses.

The Australians were ordered to retreat late in the day of April 24th. Then it was the Canadians' turn to feel the fury of the Chinese attack. They defended stoutly and eventually the Chinese assault collapsed.

The ANZAC spirit was alive and well; the 3rd Battalion had remained true to the legend. When others had retreated before an imposing enemy, the Australians stood their ground and defended their position. In doing so, they prevented a massive breakthrough from occurring that would certainly have seen the enemy recapture Seoul and with it, thousands of UN troops.

By the time the Australians were withdrawn from the battle, the UN forces had secured a strong defensive position to the rear of where the Australians had been fighting. Such courage and devotion to duty did not go unnoticed and the 3rd Battalion was awarded a US Presidential Citation.

This is similar to a unit VC, and it further enhanced the Australiansí great fighting spirit.

(Adapted from N. Bartlett With the Australians in Korea. Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954)

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