Here, we're just days away from commemorating Anzac Day on the 25th., the famous anniversary of the WWI assault on Gallipoli. And today is the 60th anniversary of New Zealand and Australia making another heroic stand together...
In 1951, these and other Commonwealth countries were fighting in Korea as part of the UN coalition to stymie the invasion plans of Nth.Korea and its Chinese allies. In such a short space as a blog post, I can't possibly do any justice to the efforts of those involved in the pivotal Battle Of Kap'yong, which was later described by a newspaper correspondent as "some of the bloodiest and fiercest fighting ever to take place in Anzac history".
At dusk on April 23rd., massive Chinese forces smashed a ten-mile gap in the front. They threatened to split the UN Army in two: had they not been stopped at Kap'yong, they may well have pushed all the way down to Seoul and captured the entire Korean Peninsula.
|"Into the valley of death..."|
As far as 16th.Field Regt., Royal NZ Artillery went, they were firing their 25pdrs at almost point-blank range into wave after wave of seemingly impervious enemy. When the Chinese got under the artillery barrage and began to climb uphill towards them, gun trails were even lifted up so the barrels could be depressed enough to fire down into them. At one stage, the Chinese reached the gun lines and there was ferocious hand-to-hand fighting: my father recalled clubbing at enemy soldiers with a piece of 4x2 timber!
The Regiment was forced to withdraw to prepared back-up positions in the dark of night with no lights and, without loss, were rapidly back in action in support of the infantry.
|NZ 25pdr in full recoil,|
during Battle of Kap'yong
For the next four days and nights the regiment fired without pause, the gunners - stripped to the waist - sweating over their smoking, paint-blistered guns. In the thirty hours preceding Anzac Day, they fired about 10,000 rounds! Oz casualties were heavy but the infantry, with the support of the NZ guns, accounted for an estimated 1,000 Chinese killed and 3,000 wounded.
At dawn on Anzac Day the Chinese massed for their greatest assault. Meeting the advance with murderous fire, the Australians piled up at least 500 enemy dead around their positions. Then the assault fizzled out. New Anzac traditions had been made.
For their deeds, 16th.Field Regiment received the Presidential Unit Citation from the President of the Republic of Korea.
Many call Korea "The Forgotten War", yet it contains one of the greatest stands in our military history. Australia commemorates it today, but there is NO service anywhere in Auckland remembering the 60th anniversary of the Battle Of Kap'yong...shameful.