April: when the past is heaviest

For  students of  the Korean War and of Canadian military history, April  is a month heavy with the weight of  the past. It is the month of Kapyong.

As the 60th anniversary of Canada’s most famous battle in Korea draws closer (April 24th), there is increasing attention focusing on this remarkable encounter in which outnumbered and surrounded Canadian troops helped save Seoul from capture by the Chinese.

This article appeared in today’s edition of the National Post newspaper:


Last Monday,  a new look at the battle, “Triumph at Kapyong” by Dundurn Press was released.

On Friday morning, April 15 a ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa will honour what Canada did at Kapyong.

Within the next week, an Australian TV documentary on Kapyong will be broadcast that was filmed in several international locations, including the Kapyong site, and also in Canada with interviews with several Canadian veterans. The docu-drama includes portrayals of the Patricias and Lt Mike Levy calling in artillery fire on his own position.

A Canadian television documentary team from Bloc 4 is soon heading to Kapyong to film the anniversary ceremonies at the site of the battle for inclusion in a Canadian telling of the Kapyong story. Accompanying them will be Kapyong veteran Hub Gray, who commanded a heavy machine gun unit that saved the unit’s headquarters from being swarmed.

At Camp Shilo, Manitoba, the home of  2PPCLI (The Kapyong Patricias), a series of … well, not  celebrations exactly, but of commemorations and memorial services will be held on the last weekend of April.

With surviving veterans of Kapyong now in their 80s and 90s, this month will be the one last chance for these aging and modest warriors to gather at the site of their triumph and reflect on their ten slain comrades who did not come down off the hill and who will remain, as they say, “forever young.”


About Dan Bjarnason

Dan Bjarnason is the author of "Triumph at Kapyong, Canada's Pivotal Battle in the Korean War." Bjarnason was a television news and documentary reporter for The National at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for over 35 years, He specialized in military history and has worked on documentaries from the Little Bighorn to the Falklands. He now lives in Toronto and can be reached at: danbjarnason@gmail.com
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2 Responses to April: when the past is heaviest

  1. Chris frederick says:

    Dan, awesome book. Good work. I also lament at the lack of tribute accorded this great battle. I have watched We Were Soldiers with Mel Gibson and I swear it is rip from this Canadian battle . . .
    I was in Kapyong last year, walking the hills, then at the Korean War Memorial museum during the ceremony for the liberation of Seoul, and met a fellow named Henry Martinak who was involved in the battle of Kapyong. I told him I had been writing a treatment for a film script. He seemed like he may have heard that a few times over the years (I hope!). Is anybody really serious about this battle as a movie? It needs to be put on the map. I have spent some time focusing on the locals in my story because it is true that young Koreans really don’t know or even care much about this war, even though the guys spend a couple years in military service. So, unless the local population is involved, there would not be a Korean audience for the film. And that would be a pity. The war was so distant and ideological for most that it would have to have a local human touch. The locals were saved as were all South Koreans. Excellent book! Let’s make a movie!

  2. Marilyn says:

    This link talks about the reasons behind Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.


    My continued respect and concern is given to the men and women who fight for their countries…

    Please listen to http://www.blunt.fm

    God bless

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