Armistice ends fighting in Korean War

27 July 1953

New Zealand memorial in South Korea, 2010 (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade)

After lengthy negotiations, representatives of North Korea and the United Nations signed an armistice on the ceasefire line between North and South Korea.

New Zealand’s thousand-strong Kayforce had arrived in South Korea in December 1950 to join the UN’s ‘police action’ against North Korean invaders. The Kiwis joined the 27th British Commonwealth Infantry Brigade in January 1951 and took part in operations in which the UN forces fought their way back across the 38th parallel into North Korea.

In April 1951 the Chinese, who had intervened to save North Korea from defeat, launched a massive offensive. The Commonwealth Brigade fought a defensive battle against a Chinese division at Kap’yong. Filling a gap in the UN line, the Royal New Zealand Artillery’s 16 Field Regiment played a vital supporting role. Although Kap’yong later had to be abandoned, the Chinese offensive in this sector was checked.

About 4700 men served with Kayforce and 1300 on Royal New Zealand Navy frigates during New Zealand’s seven-year involvement in Korea. Forty-five men lost their lives, 33 of them (including two naval personnel) during the war.

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