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Historical Calendar - 1953


March 1953

Another round of Canadian troop rotations begins this month.

30 March 1953

The Communists announce that prisoners from both sides who want to be returned should be repatriated immediately after the armistice, and propose that prisoners unwilling to be repatriated be transferred to a neutral state, not to the UN as initially proposed by India a few months ago.

10 April 1953

HMCS Crusader returns to the Korean east coast for her final and most successful tour.

14-15 April 1953

HMCS Crusader destroys 3 trains in two days on the Korean coast, the most of any UN destroyer.

20 April 1953

Plan "Little Switch", the repatriation of sick and wounded prisoners of war on both sides, begins at Panmunjom.

26 April 1953

Armistice negotiations resume and talks move more quickly.

Easter Sunday was a day of rest for the PPCLI in Korea but religious duties were not neglected. Roman Catholic service was conducted by H/Capt. J.J. Vallely and Protestant service by H/Capt. Ray Cunningham. An impromptu choir, organized only that morning by Capt. Owen Brown.

2-3 May, 1953

In what proves to be the costliest Canadian engagement of the war, the Chinese raid the positions of C Company, 3 RCR, on Hills 97 and 123, located at the end of the ridge running down from Hill 187. The recently-arrived RCR battalion suffers 82 casualties - 30 killed, 41 wounded and 11 captured, including twenty-two Korean soldiers serving with the RCR - when a large force of Chinese overrun the forward platoon on Hill 97 before moving up the ridge to attack the next platoon position.

L/Bdr. Don Cecile setting sights of 25 pounder gun of 216 Battery, 81st Field Regiment, RCA.

8 June 1953

An agreement is reached between the UN and Communist delegations on the terms for repatriation of all prisoners. Those who wish to go home would be exchanged immediately after the armistice is signed. Those who do not wish to go home would be assigned to the custody of a Neutral Nation Repatriation Commission chaired by an Indian officer. While in Commission custody, prisoners might be persuaded to return to their homelands by visiting compatriots. After 120 days they would be free to do as they then wish.

Free issue of candies, books, coke and beer is being handled here by Pte. Alvin Doyle of St. Joseph D'Alma, Québec, to members of 3rd Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment.

9 June 1953

The South Korean government rejects the conditions of the armistice. Instead, it wants a unified Korea, the removal of Chinese forces in North Korea, and a demilitarization of the North. President Rhee threatens that if the Chinese are permitted to remain in North Korea, South Korea would continue the fight until the Chinese were pushed north of the Yalu River.

10-18 June 1953

While negotiations continue, the Chinese launch attacks against South Korean forces in central Korea, one of the strongest offensives in two years. The South Korean army suffers more than 7,300 casualties while enemy losses are estimated at 6,600.

Officers of Baker Company, 3rd Battalion, PPCLI, undergoing briefing before night patrol. (L.-R.): Lt. Robert Farvolden, Maj. Ronnie Roberts, Lt. P.E. Vick.

17 June 1953

The revised demarcation line is settled.

Trooper Yves Clement, 'D' Squadron, Royal Canadian Dragoons, patrolling the Demilitarized Zone.

18 June 1953

President Rhee orders South Korean guards to free 25,000 North Korean prisoners who do not wish to be repatriated to North Korea, leaving only 9,000 prisoners after 4 days of liberation operations. Rhee's actions threaten the fragile peace talks with the Communists.

24 June 1953

Communists renew attacks on South Korean divisions.

10 July 1953

The Canadian brigade takes over responsibility for Hill 355 from the 28th Commonwealth brigade.

Personnel of Baker Company, 3rd Battalion, Royal 22e Regiment manning machine gun. (L.-R.): Lt. Jean Riffou, Ptes. Fernand Boucher, Normand Dufresne.

11 July 1953

President Rhee no longer rejects the armistice's conditions.

13 July 1953

The Communists launch another offensive against South Korean forces, pushing them back some 6 miles in the central sector. During the final two months of fighting the UN Command suffers over 52,000 casualties while the communists are estimated to have suffered more than 108,000.

The Honour Plot at the United Nations Military Cemetery.

20 July 1953

HMCS Athabaskan fires the Royal Canadian Navy's last salvo of the Korean War, shelling Chinese positions on the mainland near the island of Mu-Do.

27 July 1953

An armistice agreement is signed at Panmunjom by the Communists and the UN (on behalf of South Korea) to go into effect at 10:00 pm.

Christmas dinner 3 Batallion, Royal 22e Régiment.

28 July 1953

Hostilities cease as the armistice goes into effect. The "cease-fire line" follows the line of contact between the two sides with a demilitarized zone 2000 metres wide on each side. On 5 August the exchange of prisoners begins at Panmunjom at the 38th Parallel and over the next 2 months both sides release a total of 80,000 prisoners. Many prisoners held by the UN choose to settle in South Korea while a few hundred prisoners held by the Communists remain in North Korea.

Second Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry in combat area.


The signing of the Armistice at Panmunjom brings an end to the armed conflict in Korea. Three years of war have taken a heavy toll on the land and on the people. As Koreans begin to rebuild their country, Canadian troops remain in South Korea for some time after the Armistice agreement to help with reconstruction, logistics and security. Throughout the remainder of 1953 and for much of 1954, fresh troops are sent in, Brigadier Allard is replaced by F.A. Clift as commander of the Canadian brigade and troop rotations continue. In September of 1954, with the situation stabilizing and South Koreans well on their way to a successful rebuild, the Canadian government repatriates two thirds of its troops. Six months later, the last Canadian battalion leaves Korea but a medical detachment remains until 1957.

Canada's contribution to restoring peace in Korea has ended, but officially the war has not. UN troops, mostly South Korean and American, are still active in Korea today. The demilitarized zone remains in place, separating the Korean peninsula in two and is always closely watched.

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