Army volunteers were called for in July 1950, and in August 1,100 men entered camp. When it sailed on 10 December, Kayforce, as the Army contingent was called, consisted of:
16 Field Regiment, RNZA;
a Signals Troop;
a Light Aid Detachment (to maintain vehicles and guns);
a Transport Platoon; and
a Reinforcement Training Unit.
Thus the force was a field regiment of artillery (25-pounders) with the necessary services to maintain it in action. The regiment fired its first shots on 29 January 1951, south-east of Seoul, spent a bitterly cold winter (for which it was not well clothed) in constant moves near the junction of the Pukhan and Han Rivers, and in April fought a series of defensive actions against Chinese mass attacks. At Kap'yong – in support of 3 Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (of infantry) – 16 Regiment blocked the main line of the Chinese advance in a furious four-day battle ending on Anzac Day. For this both units were awarded the Korean Presidential Unit Citation. In June the regiment moved forward to the Imjin River. In the following month it became part of the Divisional Artillery of the newly formed 1st British Commonwealth Division, and in October fired 72,000 rounds in support of the Imjin crossing – an action which reached its climax on 4 November, when the regiment fired 10,387 rounds. By this time a Divisional Transport Company, another Light Aid Detachment, and more Signals troops joined Kayforce, bringing its strength to some 1,550, all ranks. The winter of 1951–52 passed quietly, with few moves, comparatively comfortable quarters, and warm clothing. More or less static warfare continued throughout 1952, during which the various features on the front north of the Imjin became well known: Hill 355 (“Little Gibraltar”), The Apostles, Searchlight Hill, Bowling Alley, and the Shooting Box. The Transport Company worked ceaselessly supplying the division. In 1953, as a cease-fire became increasingly probable, the Chinese strove in a series of attacks to gain a better armistice line and the regiment was kept busy. Two days of violent activity with the guns firing non-stop ended at 5.30 a.m. on 27 July 1953, when fighting officially ceased.
In two and a half years of almost continuous action, the New Zealand field gunners had fired nearly 800,000 rounds from their hard worked 25-pounders, the highest total of any field regiment in the war and far greater than that fired by any NZ regiment in the Second World War. The peace was an uneasy one, however, and 16 Regiment had to work and train hard to keep ready for action in the truce positions. In October 1954 the regiment withdrew from the line and was disbanded. No. 10 Company RNZASC stayed a little longer to supply the reduced Commonwealth Division and returned home early in 1955. Kayforce had worthily upheld the traditions of the 1st and 2nd NZEFs. Its casualties were 37 killed, 80 wounded, and one prisoner (duly returned through Panmunjom).
by Walter Edward Murphy, B.A., Lecturer, School of Political Science and Public Administration, Victoria University of Wellington.