At the end of 1951, a stalemate emerged as both sides improved their defensive positions. The front took on the character of a hilly Western Front. Much bitter fighting took places around the two bastions of the Commonwealth sector, Hill 355 and the Hook.
The New Zealand gunners were kept busy during this phase of the war supporting infantry patrols, occasionally providing defensive fire to repel Chinese attacks, reducing enemy trenches and strongpoints and providing routine harassing fire. In all, they would fire more than three-quarters of a million shells before the end of the fighting. They earned a reputation as an extremely proficient element of the Divisional Artillery.
Other New Zealanders quietly performed their duties as signallers, drivers, infantrymen (nine regular officers and NCOs were attached for periods to the Australian battalions), and engineers. Seventeen Regular Force personnel, mainly NCOs, also gained combat experience while serving with British armoured units in Korea. Some relief from the conditions at the front was provided by leave schemes which allowed men to spend up to three weeks in Japan. At sea, New Zealand seamen took part in patrolling mainly on the west coast, and helped to protect South Korean-held islands. Successive reliefs ensured that all six New Zealand frigates saw service in the conflict.
After the armistice
An armistice on 27 July 1953 finally brought the fighting to an end, though no peace settlement was subsequently achieved and the armistice arrangements continued in force for the next forty years. New Zealand’s naval presence was reduced to one frigate, which from 1954 was attached to the British Far Eastern Fleet and made only periodic visits to Korea. The New Zealand gunners were based at a camp on the Imjin River till their withdrawal in November 1954, and 10 Company’s role ended in May 1956 when the Commonwealth Division was disbanded. From this point New Zealand troops in Korea, an 80-strong transport platoon, served as part of the Commonwealth Contingent, Korea. Kayforce was finally withdrawn from Korea on 27 July 1957. Thereafter New Zealand was represented by a military liaison officer on the Commonwealth Liaison Mission, Korea, until 1971.