On April 23 this year, ambassadors of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand in Seoul, together with the minister of Patriots and Veterans Affairs of the Republic of Korea hosted the celebration of 70th anniversary of the Battle of Gapyeong in the Gapyeong-gum county of the Gangwon Province, some 70 kilometers northeast of Seoul.
Attending the ceremony, among other participants, were Minister Hwang Ki-chul of Veterans Administration of Korea and Ambassadors Simon Smith of the United Kingdom, Catherine Raper of Australia, Michael Danagher of Canada and Philip Turner of New Zealand.
There also were Governor Kim Sung-ki of Gapyeong Country, Vice Admiral Stuart Campbell Mayer (deputy commander of the United Nations Command) and a number of other Korean and international dignitaries interested in defense international relations in Korea.
The Battle of Gapyeong, which took place on April 23–25, 1951, is noted for the gallantry of the soldiers of the 27th Infantry Brigade of the Commonwealth countries, in which vastly outnumbered Commonwealth brigade checked the communist advance on Seoul, the capital of the Republic of Korea. Two Commonwealth battalions--the 2nd Battalion of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Regiment and the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment--bore the brunt of the attack, and their defense of the Gapyeong River valley against an entire Chinese division helped halt the Chinese Spring Offensive of that year, which was planned capture Seoul, the capital of the Republic of Korea.
The Australian and Canadian battalions were operating under the mandate of UN Security Council Resoultion 83, which authorized the use of military force to restore peace on the Korean peninsula.
In mid-April 1951 the Chinese (Volunteer) Forces withdrew to just north of the 38th parallel (the pre-war border between North and South Korea) as part of a plan to lure the UN forces into a position where they would be vulnerable to a major counterattack.
That attack was unleashed on April 22, 1951. The South Korean 6th Division was shattered by the Chinese offensive, and the following day the 27th Brigade was ordered to protect the South Korean withdrawal through the Gapyeong River valley (about 12 miles south of the 38th parallel in central Korea). The UK regiments were assigned to forward hilltop positions, with the Canadians on the west side of the valley and the Australians on the east. Another 27th Brigade unit, 1st Battalion, the Middlesex Regiment, was held in reserve, while the 16th Field Regiment, Royal New Zealand Artillery, and Company A of the 72nd U.S. Tank Battalion provided fire support.
For the first two days of the battle, the Australians bore the brunt of the fighting. Although the Australians inflicted enormous casualties on the attacking Chinese, the arrival of a second full-strength Chinese regiment on their right flank threatened the Australian position with encirclement.
Late on April 24, the Australian troops were withdrawn in good order. While the Australians fought, Lt. Col. Jim Stone ordered his Canadian troops, about 700 in number, to dig in and to prepare to repel a Chinese force numbering at least 6,000 strong. The Canadian position heavily favoured the defense, and, by the time the Chinese turned their attention to the defenders, the UN forces were well prepared.
Today, Gapyeong is considered one of the best places in Korea for the Korean and international tourists as well as casual visitors.
Gapyeong Count is known as a “Place where every step of the way becomes a scenery!” It is also called “The best place of the people needing rest and recuperation in Korea.”
With the beautiful harmonious natural landscape of clean water and tall mountains, Gapyeong has led the tourism industry in Korea, which many people in Korea and around the world ‘a most representative industry for the 21st century.’
In addition, Gapyeong is known as a “City of Music where the Jarasum International Jazz Festival, Korea's best festival and the only designated music festival by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, is hosted.”
Gapyeong, also known as a ‘Cultural and Arts City’ possessing beautiful nature and music, has a population of 63,000 people, but with the total area that is 1.4 times the size of the city of Seoul, Gapyeong is known as a ‘Region with Infinite Potential for Development and Growth.’