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Korean War

The Korean War began 25 June 1950, when North Korean armed forces invaded South Korea. The war’s combat phase lasted until an armistice was signed 27 July 1953. As part of a United Nations (UN) force, 26,791 Canadian military personnel served in the Korean War, during both the combat phase and as peacekeepers afterward. After the two world wars, Korea remains Canada’s third-bloodiest overseas conflict, taking the lives of 516 Canadians and wounding more than 1,200.

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Korean War

The Korean War began 25 June 1950, when North Korean armed forces invaded South Korea. The war’s combat phase lasted until an armistice was signed 27 July 1953. As part of a United Nations (UN) force consisting of 16 countries, 26,791 Canadian military personnel served in the Korean War, during both the combat phase and as peacekeepers afterward. The last Canadian soldiers left Korea in 1957. After the two world wars, Korea remains Canada’s third-bloodiest overseas conflict, taking the lives of 516 Canadians and wounding more than 1,000. In total, an estimated three million people died during the war. More than half were civilians. The two Koreas remain technically at war today.

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Koje-Do

Koje-Do (now Geojedo), is an island 40 kilometers southwest of Busan, South Korea, where the United States operated a prisoner of war (POW) camp during the Korean War. North Korean and Chinese prisoners rebelled and seized the camp.

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Sixty Years On, Korean War Still Echoes

When is a war not a war? For the Korean War, the answer is not always clear. This year, 2013, marks the 60th anniversary of the ceasefire of a war that not everyone describes that way. It had ambiguous beginnings, more than 20 participating countries, and still no formal end. But some things are evident. This year, Historica Canada is commemorating this sometimes-forgotten but still-resonant period of our recent history, and Canada’s role therein. Our country sent more than 26,000 members of our military to the Korean “theatre.” More than 500 Canadians died, and another 1,000 were wounded; 32 became prisoners of war.

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Korean Canadians

Korea was a single, independent country for 1,300 years before splitting in two after the Second World War. North Korea is today an isolated military dictatorship while South Korea is a liberal democracy. Almost all Korean immigration to Canada has been from South Korea. In 2016, the census recorded 198, 210 Canadians of Korean origin (177, 925 single and 20, 290 multiple responses.)

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The Memory Project

The Memory Project is a national bilingual program whose mandate is to record and share the stories of veterans and currently serving Canadian Forces members. The Memory Project has two branches: a Speakers Bureau and an Archive.

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Canada and the Battle of Kapyong

The Battle of Kapyong is one of Canada’s greatest, yet least-known, military achievements. For two days in April 1951, a battalion of roughly 700 Canadian troops (the 2nd Battalion of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Regiment) helped defend a crucial hill in the front lines of the Korean War against a force of about 5,000 Chinese soldiers. Besieged by waves of attackers, the Canadians held their position amid the horror of close combat until the assaulting force had been halted and the Canadians could be relieved. Their determined stand contributed significantly to the defeat of the Communist offensive in South Korea that year.

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Royal Canadian Legion

The Royal Canadian Legion is a non-profit, national organization that serves Canadian war veterans and their families and lobbies government on their behalf. It is best known for selling poppies every fall and organizing Remembrance Day ceremonies across the country. In recent decades, the Legion has struggled with declining membership, due in large part to the loss of Second World War and Korean War veterans.

Macleans

Richard Nielsen (Profile)

Richard Nielsen is no stranger to conflict. It has dogged the native of Plaster Rock, N.B., throughout what he refers to as his "checkered" career. As a 18-year-old steelworker in Hamilton, Ont., he took part in a groundbreaking, 81-day illegal strike at Stelco.

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Ralph Mintz (Primary Source)

"I never fired a shot in anger the whole time I was there because we were essentially behind the lines and we’re just repairing stuff."

See below for Mr. Mintz's entire testimony.


Please be advised that Memory Project primary sources may deal with personal testimony that reflect the speaker’s recollections and interpretations of events. Individual testimony does not necessarily reflect the views of the Memory Project and Historica Canada.

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Patrick Reidy (Primary Source)

"I participated in some of the now-famous battles – the Battle of Normandy, the Falaise Gap, the Scheldt, the Battle of the Rhineland and the crossing of the Rhine River…"

See below for Mr. Reidy's entire testimony.


Please be advised that Memory Project primary sources may deal with personal testimony that reflect the speaker’s recollections and interpretations of events. Individual testimony does not necessarily reflect the views of the Memory Project and Historica Canada.

Macleans

The Korean War, Forgotten No More

Capt. Mort Lightstone was too young to serve in the Second World War, as his father and brothers did. An industrious kid who grew up in downtown Ottawa, he delivered the Ottawa Citizen instead, and with his earnings later bought a bicycle to secure more lucrative work delivering telegrams.

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Louis St-Laurent

Louis Stephen St-Laurent, prime minister 1948–57, lawyer, politician (born 1 February 1882 in Compton, Québec; died 25 July 1973 in Québec City).

Memory Project

Emile Leon Bill Thibault (Primary Source)

Emile Leon Bill Thibault served in the Canadian Military Infantry Corps during the Second World War and the Korean War. 

This testimony relates to his experience during the Korean War.

Please be advised that Memory Project primary sources may deal with personal testimony that reflect the speaker’s recollections and interpretations of events. Individual testimony does not necessarily reflect the views of the Memory Project and Historica Canada. 

Content warning: This article contains content which some may find offensive or disturbing.

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Canadian Prisoners of War

Prisoners of War (POWs) are members of the military captured in wartime by the enemy. Since the late 19th century, international rules have governed the treatment of POWs, although these are not always followed. Thousands of Canadians have endured time as POWs in conflicts ranging from the First World War to the Korean War.

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The Royal 22e Régiment

The Royal 22e Régiment (R22eR) is one of the three infantry regiments of the Canadian Regular Force (see Canadian Armed Forces). It is a francophone regiment made up of five battalions, of which three belong to the Regular Force and two to the Reserve Force. In 2014, the R22eR celebrated its 100th anniversary. Its headquarters are at the Citadelle de Québec. The regiment has participated in all of Canada’s major military engagements since the First World War, including the United Nations peace missions and the campaign in Afghanistan.