Established in 2013, Canada officially recognizes July 27 as Korean War Veterans Day – a date that commemorates the Korean Armistice Agreement, signed July 27, 1953.
The Korean War began on June 25, 1950, when North Korean forces invaded South Korea. The combat lasted until the signing of the armistice on July 27, 1953. The United Nations response in support of South Korea included representation from 16 countries, including Canada. Some 26,791 Canadian military personnel served during both the Korean War, from 1950 to 1953, and also as peacekeepers and military observers in the years that followed the armistice. In 1957 the last Canadian soldiers left Korea. 516 Canadians lost their lives during the conflict, with another 1200 wounded.
Although documentation is not complete, several soldiers from historic Mississauga are known to have served in the Korean War, both with the 25th Canadian Infantry Brigade and with the 2nd Battalion of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry regiment. Others served with the Royal Canadian Navy.
The PPCLI landed in South Korea in December of 1950, followed by the rest of the Canadian brigade in May of 1951, including the Royal Canadian Regiment and the Royal 22nd Regiment. Much of the war became a scattered conflict of patrols through dense, difficult and mountainous terrain. Several significant battles involving Canadian troops took place, including the battles of Kapyong (April 22-25, 1951), Hill 355 (November 22-25, 1951), Kowang-San (October 22-24, 1952), Hill 187 (May 2-3, 1953), and the Third Battle of the Hook (May 28-29, 1953), among many other engagements.
Canadian Nursing Sisters were also recruited, and served during the conflict. Eight Canadian warships also took turns in Korean waters protecting UN aircraft carriers and assisting with onshore operations. These included the HMCS Athabaskan, Cayuga, Crusader, Haida, Huron, Iroquois, Nootka and Sioux.
Leon Armand Gauthier (born July 29, 1931) was the son of Herman Joseph and Edna Gauthier of Lakeview. The family also consisted of siblings John, Donald, Lawrence and Robert. In 1949 Leon Gauthier enlisted with the Royal Canadian Navy, and was aboard the HMCS Nootka when she departed Halifax in November of 1950 for service in the Korean War. Ordinary Seaman Gauthier was washed overboard and lost at sea on January 11, 1951 as the HMCS Nootka was sailing between Pearl Harbour and Korea.
He was buried in the United Nations Memorial Cemetery, in Busan, South Korea. He is remembered at the Koran War Memorial at the Naval Museum of Alberta, in the Korean War Book of Remembrance, and at the Korean War Memorial Wall at the Meadowvale Cemetery in Brampton. The Korean War Memorial Wall was created by the Korea Veterans Association of Canada and dedicated on July 27, 1997.
If you have more information or pictures of Ordinary Seaman Gauthier, please connect with us. Ordinary Seaman Leon Armand Gauthier, who lived on Halliday Avenue in Lakeview, was only 19 years old. We remember his brave service. To date, he is the only Korean War casualty identified from historic Mississauga. We would love to hear from you if you have more information relating to individuals from historic Mississauga who served in the Korean War.
NOTE: This story was previously published as part of the Way Back Wednesday series in Modern Mississauga by Heritage Mississauga.
It can be found on their website here: https://www.modernmississauga.com/main/2020/7/22/the-history-of-mississaugas-connection-to-the-korean-war