A War of Patrols

Talking tough doesn’t necessarily enhance security. North Korea’s threat to ‘go nuclear’—after President George Bush revoked former President Bill Clinton’s policy of containment via appeasement—has jeopardized all nations bordering the north Pacific.

With the dissolution of the so-called ‘Sunshine Policy’ that was encouraging cooperation between South Korea and North Korea, Canada must once more consider its relations with North Korea as critical.

Fifty years ago Canada deployed an 8,000-strong brigade to fight with the American-led United Nations force during the Korean War, a deadly campaign that has been dubbed ‘Canada’s Forgotten War.’

After American President Franklin Roosevelt coined the term ‘United Nations’ in 1942, Canada pledged to fight against the Axis Powers with 25 other nations. Eight years later, the United Nations was called to action when communist North Korea invaded South Korea.

William Johnston’s A War of Patrols (UBC $25.95) studies the training, leadership, operations and tactics of the Canadian brigade in Korea under each of its three wartime commanders.

Johnston, a National Defence historian, examines the uneven performance of the Canadian units, arguing the ‘Special Force’ initially sent to Korea was superior to the army’s regular battalions, which took over at the front.

Eight Royal Canadian Navy ships maintained a blockade, prevented amphibious landings and supported the UN land forces by bombing enemy-held coastal areas. They also provided aid to South Korea’s isolated fishing villages.

In all, 26,791 Canadians served in the Korean war and 7,000 served between the cease-fire and the end of 1955. UN and South Korean fatal and non-fatal casualties were approximately 490,000. Of 1,558 Canadian casualties, 516 were fatal.

A War of Patrols marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Korean Armistice. 0-7748-0740-7