National Army Museum, Waiouru, New Zealand : Military History & Army War Museum

Kiwi gunners help turn the battle at Kap’yong

Kiwi gunners help turn the battle at Kap’yong

The story of how Kiwi gunners proved their worth in the Korean War during the hard fought battle of Kap’yong is one of the stories currently being told at the National Army Museum.

Artillery fire from the Kiwi gunners was instrumental in beating back the repeated Chinese attacks on the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade during the struggle at Kap’yong.

The Australian and Canadians – although vastly outnumbered – held the valley at Kap’yong grimly against repeated Chinese attacks often with bitter hand to hand fighting.

The NZ gunners (16 Field Regiment) were deployed in support and played a vital role. The Kiwis sweated over their smoking, paint-blistered guns, firing over 10,000 rounds virtually continuously during the last two days of the battle, the 24th and 25th April 1951 (ANZAC Day). They moved five times during the attack as their positions were threatened by advancing Chinese who threw wave after wave of troops into the artillery barrage, in sucidal attempts to overrun the infantry.

Finally the Chinese were halted and reinforcements made the area secure. The Australian, Canadian and American units all received US Presidential Unit Citations for their efforts whilst 16 Field Regiment received a Presidential Unit Citation from the South Korean President.

During the course of the Korean War which was remembered for its often freezing temperatures, 16 Field Regiment fired over three quarters of a million shells from their 25 pounders – more than was fired by our artillery units during World War II.

This story of the New Zealand Artillery, along with many others, forms part of our current temporary exhibition, “The Gunners – A History of Highlights of the Royal New Zealand Artillery” now showing in the Thornton Gallery. The story of 16 Field Regiment and a 25 pounder like those used at Kap’yong also forms the basis of the life-like scene in our Korean display.