The Korean War 1950-53
War erupted in Korea amid fears that this was only the first battle of the war against communist authoritarianism. In response to the United Nations appeal for the provision of troops to resist communist aggression in Korea, the 2nd Field Regiment RCHA was raised at Shilo in 1950 as part of the Canadian Army Special Force (the term “Field” was dropped from the titles of the two RCHA regiments in 1951). Volunteers came from the 1st Regiment RCHA, the Schools and selected Militia artillery units. On the train move to Fort Lewis, Washington on 21 November 1951, tragedy struck. The third troop train collided head on with an eastbound passenger train just east of Canoe River, British Columbia. The passengers on the eastbound train escaped injury, but 17 Gunners on the first two cars of the troop train were killed and 42 injured when the cars fell down an embankment and were demolished. 2nd Regiment RCHA arrived with its twenty-four 25 Pdrs in Korea on 4 May 1951, and saw its first action two weeks later. By May 1952, fighting in support of the 25th Canadian Infantry Brigade Group, and later with the 1st Commonwealth Division, the 2nd Regiment RCHA had expended over 300,000 rounds of ammunition. It was considered to be one of the most efficient units in the Commonwealth Divisional Artillery. 1st Regiment RCHA upheld this reputation after it replaced 2nd Regiment that May.
In the 25th Brigade in 1952, many raids were carried out by the 1st Battalion The Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR), supported by A Battery, 1 RCHA. A bond of mutual admiration grew between the Battery and the RCR to the point where the guns of A Battery had the RCR cypher badge painted on them. A letter from the Commanding Officer of 1 RCHA, Lieutenant-Colonel E.M.D. (Teddy) McNaughton (who in March 1953 changed his surname to Leslie), to the infantry Commanding Officer confirmed this. A phrase in the letter would soon haunt A Battery: “It is also my intention that should ever the day come, from which the Lord preserve us, that a gun of A Battery shoots short onto The Royal Canadian Regiment, that gun and the subsection thereafter for twenty-five years will forgo the high honour and distinction of wearing the Colour and the Cypher of The Royal Canadian Regiment.” It was with commendable frankness, but undoubtedly with no little chagrin, that a little more than a month later the Regimental diarist recorded the forfeiture of this privilege by a gun of A Battery. To the embarrassed members of that gun detachment, 1977 must have seemed far distant indeed! Two years later, however, in view of the consistently fine support given by 1 RCHA to The RCR, the infantry Commanding Officer asked that the penalty be cancelled, and from that time A Battery has proudly worn the RCR badge on all its guns.
1st Regiment RCHA handed over to the 81st Field Regiment RCA in April 1953. The 79th and 81st Field Regiments RCA had been formed in 1951 and 1952 respectively, by bringing a number of Militia batteries to operational status for service in Europe as part of the Canadian Brigade with NATO. The 81st Field Regiment served in Korea until nine months after the armistice in July 1953. In November 1953 its designation was changed to the 4th Regiment RCHA as part of a reorganization of the Canadian Army, which saw the formation of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division as part of Canada’s commitment to NATO. In conjunction with this, the 79th Field Regiment RCA was re-designated as the 3rd Regiment RCHA. After serving in Germany for two years, 3 RCHA replaced 4 RCHA in Korea in the spring of 1954. 4 RCHA returned to its new home at Camp Utopia, New Brunswick. 3 RCHA would remain in Korea for 29 weeks to help ensure a stabilized peace. Canadian Gunners played an important role in the success of Commonwealth Division operations in Korea. Mercifully, the static nature of the war resulted in relatively few Gunner casualties. Of the 1,543 battle casualties suffered by the Canadian Army in Korea, the Regiment suffered 13 killed and 27 wounded or injured in theatre. To these casualties must be added the dead and injured from Canoe River.