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Kapyong Valley

24-25 April 1951

By: Dr. Matthew Barrett

Matthew Barrett

Graphic Illustrator

Matthew Barrett is an illustrator and historian who specializes in the creation of graphic histories and comics that visualize fascinating stories of the past. He received a PhD in history from Queen’s University and was a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Canadian War Museum. He is the author of Scandalous Conduct: Canadian Officer Courts Martial, 1914–45, and is the co-author and illustrator of Through Their Eyes: A Graphic History of Hill 70 and the First World War.

In late April 1951, the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army launched its spring offensive into South Korea.

Stationed with the 27th Commonwealth Brigade in the Kapyong Valley, the 2nd Battalion of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) witnessed the retreat of thousands of South Korean troops before the advancing Chinese forces. After dislodging the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment from Hill 504, the Chinese troops turned to Hill 677 defended by the PPCLI under the command of decorated Second World War battalion commander Lieutenant-Colonel Jim Stone.

On the night of 24-25 April, thousands of Chinese soldiers attacked only to be repelled by the heavily outnumbered Canadians.

At one point, as the enemy almost overran “D” Company, Captain John Mills, acting on the advice of Lieutenant Michael Levy, called for an artillery barrage of their own position. As the Canadians took cover, the Chinese attackers suffered tremendous casualties.

After a night of desperate fighting, the PPCLI, who suffered ten soldiers killed in action, was resupplied by airdrops. The Chinese forces withdrew and the PPCLI would eventually be relieved. The Canadian defense prevented a Chinese breakthrough in an important sector of the United Nations frontline. For their collective gallantry, they and the Australians had the rare distinction of receiving the US Presidential Unit Citation.