The Korean War began in June 1950 when North Korean forces launched an invasion of South Korea. The United Nations multinational force defended South Korea from the Communist forces, which included the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army. The Australians were part of a force that was defending the Kapyong Valley, north of Seoul, during April 1951.
Kapyong came to be the most significant and important battle for Australian troops in Korea. In April 1951, the Chinese launched their spring offensive with the aim of retaking the city of Seoul. They quickly overran South Korean troops defending one of the major approach routes to Seoul – the valley of the Kapyong River.
During a night of fierce fighting and throughout the daylight hours of 24 April, the Australians and a Canadian battalion, supported by a New Zealand artillery regiment, stalled the Chinese advance before eventually withdrawing after dark. The Australians had helped hold off the Chinese 60th Division and prevented Seoul from falling into enemy hands.
For its “extraordinary heroism and outstanding performance of combat duties in action against the armed enemy” 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR) was awarded the United States Presidential Citation.
The end of the Korean War came with the signing of an armistice on 27 July 1953. After the war ended, the presence of Australians in Korea continued with a peacekeeping force until 1957.
Released yesterday, The Perth Mint’s Famous Battles in Australian History – Kapyong 1oz silver proof coin commemorates this historic event.