The Korean War began on June 25, 1950, when the military forces of North Korea crossed the 38th parallel into South Korea. Sixteen members of the United Nations, including Canada, would contribute combat forces under United States command to defend South Korea.
Canadians saw action in the Battle of Kapyong on April 24 and 25, 1951. Despite fierce enemy attacks, they maintained their position. Ten Canadians were killed and 23 were wounded in the battle.
Hill 355, known as “Little Gibraltar,” was the scene of bitter fighting in late October 1952. Under intense enemy bombardment and assault, the Canadian soldiers there held their ground.
Over the course of the war, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) No. 426 Squadron carried 13,000 personnel and 3 million kilograms of freight and mail between North America and Korea. Twenty-two RCAF pilots also served with US Air Force squadrons in Korea, including Flying Officer Omer Levesque, who became the first Commonwealth pilot to shoot down a MiG-15 enemy fighter in the war.
More than 5,000 Canadian women were recruited for military service during the Korean War, including 60 Nursing Sisters who served in Korea and Japan. When the ceasefire came into effect in 1953, the Nursing Sisters treated the released Canadian prisoners of war.
On October 2, 1952, HMCS Iroquois was exchanging fire with an enemy gun battery on shore when the ship took a direct hit. Three Canadian sailors died and ten were wounded in the explosion.
On November 21, 1950, 17 soldiers of the 2nd Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, died in a train crash in British Columbia while on their way to the war in Korea.
More than 26,000 Canadians served in the Korean War and approximately 7,000 continued to serve in the theatre from the Armistice to August 1957. In total, 516 Canadians died in what is the third deadliest conflict in Canadian history.
The active fighting in the Korean War ended on July 27, 1953, with the signing of the Armistice at Panmunjom.