National Archives of Canada (PA-128847).
Lieutenant-Colonel V.A. Dextraze, Commanding Officer, 2nd Battalion, Royal 22e Regiment, on 9 Nov 51, just days before the battle. In 1952 he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his service in Korea.

On 21 November 1951, the 2nd Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment (the Van Doos) relieved the King's Shropshire Light Infantry. Days before, on 4 November, Private Speakman of the Shropshires had earned the Victoria Cross for his role in defending the position.

National Archives of Canada (PA-184319).
The morning after a great battle, the Royal 22nd Regiment mortar platoon ready to fire. L to R: Pte. Daniel Primeau, Pte. Raymond Romeo, and Pte. Julien Blondin, all of Montréal, Quebec. Fire support by the battalion mortar platoon as well artillery and tanks was key factor in the successful defense.

The Canadian brigade held a front of almost four miles with the 2nd Battalion occupying the right. D Company of the Van Doos, the right forward company, held ground on a low saddle between Hill 355 on its right, occupied by the Americans, and the unoccupied Hill 227 on its left. At 3:00PM on 22 November, the Chinese commenced an intense bombardment of Hill 355 and the positions of the 2nd Battalion. The D Company trenches were under particularly heavy attack. Shells and rockets fell on the position throughout the night. Rain changed to snow, creating extremely difficult conditions for the Engineers trying to keep the supply routes, mere dirt tracks, open into the beleaguered companies.

On 23 November, the bombardment of shells and rockets intensified. Late in the day, the Chinese launched an assault with two companies against D Company and with a full regiment against the Americans on Hill 355. A fierce battle ensued. D Company held its ground but by early evening most of Hill 355 was in Chinese hands. The loss of Hill 355 if permanent constituted a severe threat to the UN line of defence and even the temporary presence of the Chinese on Hills 355 and 227 placed the Van Doos in a precarious situation. Their Commanding Officer (CO), Lieutenant-Colonel Jacques Dextraze – like Lieutenant-Colonel James Stone of 2PPCLI – was a battle-hardened veteran who had commanded a battalion in the Second World War. He calmly and confidently instructed all companies to cling to their positions.

National Archives of Canada (PA-184260).
D Company Officers that frustrated attacking enemy forces by controlling key positions around "Little Gibraltar". L to R: Platoon Commander Lt. R. MacDuff of Montréal, Quebec, Company Commander Major R. Liboiron of Ponteix, Sask., and Platoon Commanders Lt. Mario Cote of Chicoutimi, Quebec and Lt. Walter Nash of Ottawa, Ont. Maj. Liboiron was awarded the DSO for his conduct of the battle.

At 6PM D Company Commander, Acting/Major Réal Liboiron, reported a second attack that was repulsed with tank and artillery fire. Further attacks were repulsed during the night with the help of additional tanks sent in by the Brigade Commander, Brigadier Rockingham. Early next morning of the 24th the Americans were able to recapture most of Hill 355. The Divisional and Brigade Commanders came forward in the morning to observe the situation and congratulate Dextraze on the successful defence but within a few hours the Chinese struck again.

At dusk two companies attacked surrounding one of D Company's platoons and dislodging another. At 9:30PM the Chinese seemed to have withdrawn. A few hours later the battalion Scout and Sniper Platoon led by Cpl Le0 Major, a winner of a Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) in Holland in WW2, occupied the fallen position. Less than 30 minutes later the Chinese attacked with 300 men, outnumbering his platoon by twenty to one. When Dextraze ordered him to return to the battalion area Major coolly suggested that he withdraw a short distance and that the enemy then be engaged with mortars. The CO agreed and the Chinese were caught in the open breaking up their attack. For his “personal courage, coolness and leadership” he was awarded a bar to the DCM earned originally in 1945.

The next day, the 25th, was relatively quiet for the Van Doos but in the evening D Company once again came under attack. Unknown numbers of Chinese coming from Hill 227 were beaten off by artillery and the battalion 81mm Mortars. This was the last of seven attacks on the position over three days. Military historian David Bercuson comments in his study, Blood on the Hills: The Canadian Army in the Korean War,

“One conclusion is inescapable: the Canadians had fought well, both officers and men, and the eighty-four-hour travail of' D Company, 2R22eR, was one of the finest defensive actions in the history of the Canadian army.”

The battalion suffered 49 casualties including 15 dead; about half the losses were from D Company. Major Liboiron was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and credited the company's success to “the will to fight and good communications”. The successful action was also due to outstanding work by the supporting arms such as artillery and tanks, and the battalion's Mortar Platoon and Scout Platoon.

 

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