In the wake of the Second World War, the Korean Peninsula was divided into two zones along the 38th parallel, with the North occupied by the Soviet Union and the South by the United States. Soon after the election of a northern communist government in 1948, open war broke out on June 25, 1950, when North Korean troops invaded the South.
Given the situation, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution to approve sending troops to defend South Korea; a number of countries, including Canada, contributed by supplying armed forces.
More than 26,000 Canadian soldiers fought in the Korean War. They battled communist troops on the ground, while the Royal Canadian Navy—with eight warships—helped control the Korean coasts. The Royal Canadian Air Force did its part transporting troops and equipment. A few pilots saw combat at the controls of American fighter planes.
On July 27, 1953, an armistice agreement was signed at Panmunjom, bringing three years of fighting to an end.
In all, 516 Canadians lost their lives during this armed conflict. Their names are entered in The Books of Remembrance… The Korean War, exhibited at the Peace Tower in Ottawa and available online. These registers remind us of the important contribution and tremendous sacrifice of these Canadians.
The Library and Archives Canada collection contains many documents about this war, which marks the 60th anniversary of its armistice in 2013. Here are a few examples:
Part of the war diaries (War Diary, 1951) of the Commonwealth troops, including Canadian troops:
- 27th British Commonwealth Division [Brigade] – Copies of War Diary of 27th British Commonwealth Division for months of Feb, Mar, and Apr 1951 – Rec’d from War Office
The war diary (1950–1951) of the advance party:
For more photos, visit our Flickr album.
For more information about ordering military service files, please read our blog article on this topic.