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A special ceremony to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Kapyong will be held at 10:30am on April 24 at the Ramornie cenotaph near Tindal Bridge. Image: Contributed

Remembering those who served in the Forgotten War

Emma Pritchard

While the Korean War, which raged between 1950 – 1953, is often referred to as the Forgotten War, April 24, 2021 will officially commemorate the 70th anniversary of one of its most decisive battles, the Battle of Kapyong.

Between April 23 – 25 in 1951, two Commonwealth battalions, the 2nd Battalion of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Regiment (2PPCLI) and the 3rd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR), were positioned in the Kapyong Valley as part of the United Nations operation to hold a defensive line against a communist advance towards Seoul, the South Korean capital.

Chinese forces aggressively assaulted United Nations defensive positions, including those held by Australians.

Throughout the night of April 24, Chinese troops relentlessly attacked the Australian positions and by morning, parts of the Australian forces had had to withdraw.

On April 25, the focus of the Chinese attack moved to the positions held by the Canadian forces, who successfully deflected them with the assistance of the New Zealand artillery batteries, whose fire had recently protected the Australians.

By April 25, the Chinese forces at Kapyong were exhausted and subsequently, ceased further attacks.

The efforts of the Commonwealth forces had halted the Chinese advance.

More than 30 Australians died in the Battle of Kapyong, 59 were wounded and three were taken prisoner.

The Australian and Canadian battalions were each awarded a United States Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation in recognition of their efforts.

While Anzac Day on April 25 is a National day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand to commemorate those who served and died in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations, Fred Norris, Vice President of the South Grafton RSL Sub Branch, is inviting Clarence Valley residents to a special ceremony at the Ramornie cenotaph near the Tindal Bridge at 10:30am on April 24, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Kapyong and unveil a plaque as a tribute to those who served during the Korean War.

“Being so close to Anzac Day, I feel the anniversary of the Battle of Kapyong is overlooked a lot of the time and the Korean War, which a lot of people call the Forgotten War, is also overshadowed by so many other conflicts,” he said.

“I don’t think a lot of people realise how significant Australia’s involvement in the Korean War was.

“Some of the statistics from the Battle of Kapyong are astounding.”

Mr Norris said while 17000 Australians served in Korea, 339 were killed in action and during the intensive Battle of Kapyong, the 16th New Zealand Field Regiment fired more than 10000 rounds per night at the enemy.

“It burned all the paint off the guns,” Mr Norris revealed.

“A lot of people don’t know about those pieces of history, and I think they should.

“The Battle of Kapyong, and the Korean War, they both deserve more recognition and I hope a lot of people come along to the ceremony on the weekend.”

Mr Norris said the plaque to commemorate the Battle of Kapyong was included as part of the South Grafton RSL Sub Branch’s recent refurbishment of the cenotaph at Ramornie.

Representatives from the 3rd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR), 2nd Battalion of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Regiment (2PPCLI), 16th New Zealand Field Regiment and a company of 72nd US Heavy Tank Battalion will be in attendance along with Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan, Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis and Councillor Richie Williamson.

Anyone wishing to lay a reef at the Ramornie cenotaph on April 24 is invited to do so.

Please contact Mr Norris on 0474 119 161 for further information.

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