July 27, 2022 marks the 69th anniversary of the Korean War cease fire. It also marked the point where South Korea could begin to look forward. That glance into the future was over the sight of burned and destroyed villages and cities.
The end of war was brought about by 21 allied nations who,under the United Nations banner, pushed the enemy back northwards. Their battle began on the brink of their own defeat in the redoubt called the Pusan Pocket. The eb and flow of winning and losing battles, thrust and counter trust, and the inevitable exhausting climb up rugged mountains to dislodge the enemy continued unabated. Three years of fierce battles and eventual stagnant trench life where they lived in earth bunkers behind barbed wire and mine fields. The Canadian men and women of the Special Force was composed of new recruits and veterans from past wars, who doggedlyfought until they won peace in 1953.
The fight to win this war peggedit as Canada’s third bloodiest,following right after the much larger Second World War. Canada lost 516 men. Most are buried in Busan at the United Nations Memorial Cemetery, and some are interred at the Yokohama War Cemetery in Japan. This is where British Columbian Takashi Takeuchi’s grave is located. He was from Vancouver and while in Korea with the Canadian Artillery, contracted hemorrhagic fever and died at the age of 29 in 1951.
William Leslie Strachan was another soldier from British Columbia who volunteered to fight in Korea. William had lived in Kelowna where he worked in a fruit factory.Unhappy with his job, he travelled to Vancouver and joined the Canadian Army’s Special Force for Korea. Arriving in South Korea around April 1951 with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment.
The following month while evacuating wounded soldierson Hill 497 near Nuchon-ni, Private Strachan was killed, suffering“multiple bullet wounds to his chest”. William Strachan is buried at the Busan cemetery. His younger sister Beth who lives in Maple Ridge still vividly remembers the day when their family was notified of his death. The Korean War took place many years ago and is somewhat vaguely known about and remembered today but it has never fadedfrom the memories of those who were intimately part of it.
Leslie Strachan’s sister Beth recently applied for the Ambassador for Peace Medal on behalf of her brother. The medal is an exceptional award that represents South Korea’s heartfelt thanks to our veterans. It is expected she will receive her brother’s medal very soon from the South Korean Consulatein Vancouver who are continuing to work diligently to make sure all of our veterans and their families are properly recognized.
On Wednesday July 27, 2022, I sincerely hope you took a moment to think about the men and women from Canada like Gunner Takeuchi and Private Strachan,who stood beside the brave soldiers of South Korea, and fought for Freedom and Peace.
Footnote, Mr. Guy Black is planning to continue his Kapyong Battle Memorial Walk in Korea next year. The route and distance have not yet been determined but surely it will be a very long walk to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of Kapyong and the 70th Anniversary of the Korean War Cease Fire.