During the night of 24–25 April 1951, the Second Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry fought what became the most famous Canadian battle of the Korean War. Outnumbered and isolated, the Princess Pats repulsed wave after wave of attacking Chinese infantry from their positions atop Hill 677 overlooking the Kap’yong River Valley. Although a comparatively minor episode in the broader context of the Korean War, Canadian retention of Hill 677 made an important contribution to the Commonwealth victory at Kap’yong. More significantly, the fight for Hill 677 was clearly the most successful set-piece engagement fought by the Canadians in Korea. In recognition of their achievement, the Princess Pats were awarded the United States Presidential Unit Citation—the only Canadian unit ever to earn this distinction.

Although clearly an important event for the Canadians, the fight for Hill 677 has received little scholarly attention in Canada. Commonwealth historians, in contrast, have been busy. Examining the action from the perspective of the New Zealand gunners who supported the Canadians, Ian MacGibbon suggested that artillery fire was the key to victory, and saved the beleaguered Patricias from certain defeat. Although supporting fire, including that from the Canadians themselves, was the single most important factor in the successful defence of Hill 677, it was by no means the only one. An operational analysis of the battle reveals that the Second World War experiences of the Patricias’ senior officers, the specialized nature of the battalion’s pre-battle training program, high morale, and the failure of the enemy to coordinate and press his attack also helped to make the Canadian stand possible.