In struggle — as in every part else — the numbers alone by no means inform the story.
That previous adage has a deeper that means for historian Andrew Burtch, who has Google-mapped the spots the place 514 of the 516 Canadian troopers who died in the course of the Korean Warfare fell, cataloguing their particular person tales within the course of.
It has been a multi-year venture for the Canadian Warfare Museum educational, one which started with an off-the-cuff statistical curiosity in regards to the numbers — particularly, with the query of what number of misplaced their lives in direct fight.
As soon as he started digging by way of the personnel information and the struggle diaries of the models and regiments, long-forgotten tales began coming again to life.
“I am hoping to place a human face on every of the casualties, and to have the ability to perceive the place they got here from, what their circumstances have been, the place they enlisted and the circumstances through which they laid down their lives,” Burtch advised CBC Information.
The venture has been accomplished simply in time for Remembrance Day and simply after the 65th anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean Warfare.
Every pin on the net map hyperlinks to particulars in regards to the soldier, or troopers, who died on the location.
Researching their tales unearthed tales of “extraordinary braveness,” Burtch mentioned, citing the case of the Canadians who “stayed behind and held off a Chinese language ambush to permit their fellows to flee, at not solely the price of their lives but additionally the very fact their households would by no means know the place they have been buried.”
In some situations, he mentioned, the troopers’ stays have been by no means recovered — “a horrible factor for a household again house.”
Burtch was significantly moved by the story of Pte. Elliot Gordon MacKay, the youngest Canadian soldier to be killed in Korea.
At age 17, MacKay enlisted below his cousin’s identify in April of 1950 with a borrowed ID card. He served with the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Gentle Infantry and was killed in motion at Hill 444.
“It wasn’t till after his demise that his full id was revealed,” Burtch mentioned.
Brothers Marcel Tremblay and Paul Emile Tremblay each served with the Royal 22e Regiment. Marcel Tremblay was killed in battle in November 1951.
His brother enlisted only a month later. Paul Emile died below an artillery bombardment in September 1952.
Then there’s the story of William James Austin, who served within the Second World Warfare and re-enlisted for Korea. The military didn’t think about him match for service. He was discharged in December 1950 and died of a coronary heart assault on the road.
“However the military had stamped his pay guide that day, so, for all intents and functions he was nonetheless within the military, and he was nonetheless a member of the Armed Forces sure for Korea and thus within the Korean Guide of Remembrance,” mentioned Burtch.
Via his analysis, Burtch discovered that 309 Canadian troopers have been killed in direct fight with North Korean and Chinese language forces, or died of wounds, or went lacking and have been presumed useless. Three sailors have been killed below fireplace aboard a Canadian destroyer.
What in regards to the different 204?
“An excellent a lot of these have been unintended deaths, unintended discharges of weapons,” he mentioned. “There have been, sadly, many circumstances of pure causes.”
As much as eight of the deaths have been suicides.
Burtch mentioned he was stunned by the truth that 75 of the Canadian troopers assigned to Korea truly died at house attributable to poor well being or accidents — such because the November 1950 prepare wreck in Canoe River, B.C. which took the lives of troopers headed to Korea.
“Having the ability to discern how many individuals died below completely different circumstances after that they had come house, or simply earlier than they left, was actually revealing,” he mentioned.
“You take a look at the price of the struggle not remoted to the theatre abroad, but additionally right here at house.”
The venture is immensely vital to Korean struggle veterans like retired warrant officer David Davidson, 85, who maintained and repaired artillery items in the course of the struggle.
“It should add one thing to those that paid the supreme sacrifice,” mentioned Davidson. “They’re going to know the place everybody fell. And it might convey some closure to the households.”
The smaller scale of the Canadian contingent within the Korean Warfare made the mapping venture a far simpler enterprise than, as an example, making an attempt to pinpoint the locations the place Canadian troopers died in the course of the First and Second World Wars.
Solely 26,000 Canadians served within the Korean Warfare on land, at sea or within the air. Over a dozen years of preventing in Afghanistan, simply over 40,000 Canadian troops served on numerous rotations.
And Korea differed from different, subsequent conflicts involving Canadian troops in a single different important means. In more moderen conflicts, Canadian casualties have been introduced house for burial. The Korean Warfare was the final abroad battle which noticed Canadians buried the place they died, with their households notified by telegram.
“The funerals and the household’s ordeal and grief was extra of a personal affair as a result of it was dealt with, kind of, by way of correspondence and never essentially within the cemeteries in Canada,” mentioned Burtch.