Second Autumn Rotation – November 1952

On November 3, 1952, the 3rd PPCLI replaced the 1st Battalion in the order of battle and began the last phase of their training before going into the line. They were also responsible for counter-attacks to retake any positions captured by the enemy from the Black Watch of the 29th British Brigade. As it turned out, a rehearsal for a counter-attack developed into the real thing on the feature known as the Hook. The Hook was to be the scene of many Commonwealth casualties in the months ahead.

Flowing from the west an unnamed tributary of the Sami-chon River divided the opposing forces in the Hook area. The valley of this tributary is dominated on the south side by a crest line which runs from northwest to southeast. Hill 146 forms the eastern end of the crest line. The Hook marks the western limit of the hill system. The lower Sami-chon valley could be observed from the Hook; it was therefore subjected to frequent enemy attacks.

The British Black Watch were guarding the hill line on the night of November 18 when the enemy attacked in battalion strength and succeeded in gaining a foothold on the Hook. As the Black Watch company from Hill 146 counter-attacked, the 3rd PPCLI (and a troop of Lord Strathcona tanks) came forward to reinforce the unit and to take over defence of Hill 146. By morning the Black Watch had cleared the main position and the Patricias occupied the feature without difficulty. The Patricias remained on the Hook for several days before rejoining the battalion in training for the brigade's return to the line.

At the end of November the 1st Commonwealth Division began a general redeployment of forces. Instead of two brigades in line each with three battalions forward, all three brigades were in line each with only two battalions forward. This meant that each brigade commander had a narrower front to control and each brigade had its own reserve battalion for counter-attack and intra-brigade reliefs.

As the Canadians moved back into line on the left of the division front, Brigadier Bogert assigned the Royal 22e to the Yongdong feature east of the Sami-chon River and the Patricias to the Hook. The RCR were in reserve except for one company attached to the Patricias.

1st R22eR in front line postion, December, 1952

The next two months were relatively quiet. The most important activity was the improvement of defensive works particularly on the Hook. The importance of effective tunnels and trenches had been demonstrated in the October attacks on Hill 355 when Chinese shelling had so destroyed defences that resistance was impossible. In contrast, in the November 18-19 attacks on the Hook, when the open defences were flattened, the Black Watch defenders were able to take shelter in existing tunnels and call down artillery fire on the enemy. They, thereby, prevented the position from being overrun by the assaulting infantry. During this period in the line, trenches were deepened and extended, command posts, observations posts and bunkers were reinforced, and additional earthwords of all types were constructed. The tunnelling program was carried out by the greater part of the 23rd Field Squadron Royal Canadian Engineers together with three companies of South Korean labourers. The work was both difficult and dangerous. Cutting through solid rock and frozen ground, the Engineers added 112 metres to existing tunnels by the end of January.

Meanwhile, although enemy attacks and active patrolling continued, both were on a lesser scale than before. The Canadians did not engage in any company raids in this period, but standing, reconnaissance, ambush and fighting patrols, together with frequent "stand-to's" under warning of enemy attack, kept the force vigilant. However, to the right of the division front the 28th Brigade was not so fortunate. Several violent encounters in the Hill 355-227 area resulted in rather heavy casualties.

At the end of December the PPCLI and the RCR exchanged positions. The R22eR remained on the Yongdong feature until January 30. The RCR's month on the Hook was also quiet. Although the unit patrolled actively, few contacts were made, and none of these resulted in heavy casualties.

On January 30, 1953, all of the 1st Commonwealth Division (except the artillery) went into reserve for the first time since its formation in July 1951. The divisional artillery remained forward in support of the relieving American units.

The 1st Commonwealth Division remained in reserve until April 8 during which time it carried out training exercises on battalion, brigade and divisional levels. Two important developments occurred during the period. The first was the addition of South Korean soldiers to the Commonwealth Division. The other was the beginning of the second major rotation of Canadian units in Korea.

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