Second Battle of Hill 355 | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Second Battle of Hill 355

Hill 355 (Kowang San) was a strategically important site during the Korean War. Canadian troops were involved in two battles for control of the mountain. The 1st Battalion The Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR) fought in the second battle (22–24 October 1952), during which they defended the hill against Chinese attacks. See also First Battle of Hill 355.

Don Landry


22–24 October 1952


Kowang San, South Korea


Canada, other United Nations members

Canadian Casualties

18 killed, 35 wounded, 14 captured


The Korean War began 25 June 1950, when the communist Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) invaded the pro-West Republic of Korea (South Korea). As a democratic country, South Korea received the support of a United Nations military force led by the United States. By October 1950, thousands of Chinese soldiers had also joined the fight. By the middle of 1951, the lines were quite static and both sides established defensive positions around the 38th Parallel. Soldiers dug trenches and bunkers and sent out patrols at night to gather intelligence and capture prisoners.

Hill 355, located about 40 km north of Seoul, dominated the local landscape and overlooked the front lines and supply routes. Both sides fought to control the mountain, which was known as Kowang-San to Koreans and “Little Gibraltar” to the Americans. After UN troops gained control of the mountain in October 1951, Canadian soldiers played an important role in its defence. In November 1951, soldiers of the Royal 22e Regiment (Van Doos) helped defend the hill from Chinese attackers, at a cost of 16 dead and 44 wounded. (See First Battle for Hill 355.) The enemy didn’t give up, however, and Canadian soldiers would be called upon again to defend the hill.

Lucien Dion

Defending Hill 355 (22–24 October 1952)

In early September 1952, the 1st Battalion The Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR) was deployed on Hill 355. On 1 October, Chinese artillery began firing guns and mortars at RCR positions, leaving their defenses damaged and weakened. The bombardment was the prelude for a concerted attack later that month. On 17 October, Chinese gunners began a heavy artillery attack against The RCR, including approximately 1,500 shells and mortar bombs on 21 October alone. By 22 October, their defenses were badly damaged, telephone wires were cut, and ammunition storage pits had caved in. That day, more than 2,400 rounds were fired at RCR positions. On the evening of 23 October, Chinese soldiers attacked after yet another heavy artillery barrage, forcing some RCR platoons to abandon their positions.

First Commonwealth Division field units responded quickly, firing guns and mortars at the captured areas, as well as Hill 227, the area west of Hill 355, and the valley to the north. The Commonwealth Division had a clear firepower advantage over the Chinese, firing more than 11,000 rounds on one night (23–24 October) compared to about 8,500 Chinese shells fired between 18 and 24 October. At about midnight, UN forces began their counterattack, but met little resistance from the Chinese. In the early morning of October 24, RCR units reoccupied their positions. The fighting had taken a heavy toll on the regiment, with 18 killed, 35 wounded, and 14 taken prisoner. Two members of the unit were awarded the Military Cross, and a third received the Military Medal. Chinese forces attacked Hill 355 again in November but were unsuccessful.

R. Bruce Wareing

Further Reading