Kapyong Valley, Korea, 18 April 1952. This photograph, taken a year after the battle of Kapyong, shows the road to Seoul around which the battle was fought. AWM 147844


The frozen winter of 1950-51 did not slow the fighting. Attacking through fierce snowstorms, the Communist Chinese drove South Korean and UN troops before them until Seoul fell for a second time on 5 January. By the end of February UN troops held the advance along a line stretching eastwards from Suwon. In March they attacked across the Han River and retook Seoul. A month later, a replenished Chinese force was back on the offensive. Delaying actions by the Australians and Canadians near Kapyong (the modern city of Gapyeong), and by the British on the Imjin River, blunted the assault.

Through the summer and autumn, the UN launched a series of limited offensives that drove the Communists back in stages. As winter settled on the “Land of the Morning Calm”, both sides dug in just north of the 38th parallel. They were back on the same ground where the war had started.

1951 was a pivotal year for the Australian Regiment (RAR) established its earliest fighting traditions at the battles of Kapyong in April and Maryang San in October. The RAAF fighter squadron swapped its vintage fighters for jets. And the RAN’s aircraft carrier joined its other warships in Korea’s coastal waters.