Canadian Reaction to the Invasion

Canadian troops en route to Korea

The Canadian Government, while agreeing in principle with the moves made to halt aggression, did not immediately commit its forces to action in Korea. At the close of the Second World War the Canadian Armed Forces had been reduced to peacetime strength, and were specially trained for the defence of Canada. The Regular Army (or Active Force as it was then known) was composed of three parachute battalions (the Mobile Striking Force), two armoured regiments, a regiment of field artillery and a few basic supporting units such as signals and engineers. The limited strength of the Active Force – 20,369 all ranks – meant that it was not able to provide an expeditionary force without seriously weakening home defence.

Furthermore, this part of the world had never been an area in which Canada had any special national interest. While Canadian opinion supported UN action, Canadian contribution to the conflict, of necessity, came piecemeal.

The first Canadian aid to the hard-pressed UN forces came from the Royal Canadian Navy. On July 12, 1950, three Canadian destroyers, HMCS Cayuga, HMCS Athabaskan and HMCS Sioux, were dispatched to Korean waters to serve under the United Nations Command. Also in July, a Royal Canadian Air Force squadron was assigned to air transport duties with the United Nations. No. 426 Squadron, consisting of six North Star aircraft (later increased to 12), flew regularly scheduled flights between McChord Air Force Base, Washington, and Haneda Airfield, Tokyo throughout the campaign.

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