ANAVETS Shoulder to Shoulder

May 2013

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Not quite what Lord Strathcona had in mind, but the terrain would not have surprised him. An M4A2E8 Sherman tank of Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) ready to engage the enemy. (DND) By Terence Cottrell T his year, 2013, has been proclaimed The Year of the Korean War Veteran by Veterans Affairs Canada. And rightly so after all the years those who fought and died were often forgotten in what had been called a "police action" and at best a "forgotten war." And many of those who did come back suffered all the usual injuries of war, both evident and hidden. Former Canadian Army Commander LGen (ret) Charlie Belzile, CM, CMM, CD, who served in Korea with the Queen's Own Rifles of Canada following the 27 July 1953 armistice, which is apparently now suspended by a morbidly aggressive North Korea, had these thoughts on the war at the launching of this special year: "I have a feeling that perhaps it was not considered a serious thing. We were still recovering from the Second World War. And in the years after there was a build up of industrial capabilities and the launching of a lot of peace efforts to erase the effects of that war.... I think that was foremost in the minds of people, and Korea just became a little side issue.... "As for the veterans of the Forgotten War, I think the Year of the Korean Veteran will be a bit of a redemption. They will hear about their war this year." Minister of Veterans Affairs Steven Blaney said: "It is our duty to pay tribute to more than 26,000 Canadian men and women in uniform who came to the aid of South Koreans during the Korean War, and in particular the 516 who gave their lives in service to defend the values of peace and freedom on the Korean peninsula." Well-armed by the Soviet Union with T34 tanks, the communist North Koreans invaded South Korea on 25 June 1950 and quickly overwhelmed the South Koreans who had been allowed no tanks after the Second World War allies had driven out the Japanese occupiers. Later, when the allies were winning back territory and then taking some right up to the Yalu River, China's border, the Chinese People's Army entered the fray in November 1950 with untold numbers of poorly-armed but brave men who died and were wounded in frontal-assault mass attacks. As one veteran put it: "They just came on in waves screaming, and with every kind of bugle you ever heard blowing. Some didn't even have rifles. Even our flame-throwers didn't seem to scare them." 10 SHOULDER TO SHOULDER American historian Bevin Alexander, in his book Korea: The First War We Lost, has written that there were actually two wars. The first, which the UN won, was rolling the North Koreans back to where they started from. The second, which he says the UN lost, was when the Americans ignored the Chinese signals to stop and hold what they'd got. When they tried to destroy the North Korean state, which China looked upon as a buffer, and then threatened the Chinese border itself, another war started. He believes that after the communist spring offensive of 1951 failed, the Americans could have achieved an armistice with Red China. The hundreds of thousands who died after that died for nothing, he believes, because a stalemate developed. Answering the United Nations (UN) call for troops as the original crisis deepened, on 7 August 1950 the Canadian government authorized the raising of the Canadian Army Special Force (CASF). The Royal Canadian Navy destroyers HMCS Athabaskan, HMCS Cayuga and HMCS Sioux had already been despatched on 12 July 1950. Also in July, 426 Squadron Royal Canadian Air Force had been assigned to UN duties for the duration of the mission. The following Canadian units served in the war: Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) HMCS Athabaskan HMCS Cayuga HMCS Sioux HMCS Nootka HMCS Huron HMCS lroquois HMCS Crusader HMCS Haida Canadian Army Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians)

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