Today, the Secretary of the Department of Veterans' Affairs Liz Cosson AM CSC encouraged all Australians to remember the decisive Battle of Kapyong that took place during the Korean War in April 1951.
Kapyong was one of the most significant battles of the Korean War, during which Australian, Commonwealth and other United Nations (UN) forces helped stop a communist advance on the South Korean capital, Seoul, which had already twice fallen into communist hands during earlier phases of the war.
"On 23 April 1951, the Chinese launched their spring offensive through the Kapyong valley to advance on Seoul, breaking through the forward positions held by South Korean Army units and reaching Australian positions that evening," Ms Cosson said.
"The 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment were confronted with repeated attacks that continued through the night and into the next day, and were forced to withdraw to defensive positions established further to the rear."
On 25 April 1951, the focus of the Chinese attacks shifted to the positions held by Canadian troops, but with the assistance of New Zealand artillery, they were able to halt the Chinese advance. The Australian and Canadian battalions were each awarded a United States Presidential Unit Citation for their part in the battle.
"In difficult terrain these courageous troops fought off wave after wave of Chinese infantry. Not only is the Battle of Kapyong remembered as a major victory for UN forces, it was one of Australia's most hard-fought battles of the Korean War," Ms Cosson said.
"As a nation we must never forget the service and sacrifice of the Australians who served in the Korean War and those who fought in the Battle of Kapyong. On behalf of all Australians, I thank you for your service."
More than 18,000 Australians served during the Korean War and in the Post-Armistice phase, including some 50 nurses. Tragically, 340 died, some 1,500 were injured, 30 were taken prisoner and 43 are still listed missing in action.
Open Arms — Veterans and Families Counselling provides support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families. Free and confidential help is available 24/7.
Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 1800 011 046 or +61 8 8241 4546) or visit Open Arms — Veterans and Families Counselling.
Media enquiries: Department of Veterans' Affairs: 02 6289 6466