Seventy years ago this week, Canada’s Special Force entered the fray in Korea. At that time the only Canadian troops on the ground were the members of the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.
When 2PPCLI had landed in Korea in December 1950, the American commander of UN forces on the ground was Lieutenant-General Walton Walker. One of his staff officers met with the Patricia’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant-Colonel James R. Stone and ordered him to move his troops to the front. Big Jim, as his men referred to him, refused and insisted on meeting with General Walker himself. Fortunately Stone had with him a document giving him the authority to decide when his troops were ready to be committed to battle.
A compromise was reached. Stone settled for another six weeks of training, as a result of which the battalion proceeded from Pusan, the port where they had landed, to Miryang, a village fifty miles north. Once settled into their tented camp the Canadians continued training and renewed their fitness levels by climbing up and down the surrounding hills, at times in pursuit of Communist guerrillas. Training at Miryang also featured familiarization with American small arms, including machine guns and mortars, with which the Canadians would be supplied.
In a quirk of fate, General Walker was killed in a motor vehicle accident only days after his meeting with LCol Stone, so he never saw the Canadians enter the fray.
On February 15th, 1951, Stone declared his troops ready. They clambered aboard American 6X6 trucks and headed north to join the 27th Commonwealth Brigade. There they’d take their place in the battle zone in pursuit of the (for now) withdrawing Chinese.