William H.A. Willbond MSM, CD

AN ODE TO MIKE LEVY – CANADIAN HERO

Levy should have received the DSC
For bravery in facing the attacking enemy
He called down Arty to help win the day
And defeat the Chinese at the Kapyong fray

He should be remembered in Canadian poem and song
For helping save Seoul (souls) at the battle of Kapyong
A lad; he escaped from a Japanese internment camp
Walked across China on a three thousand mile tramp

Behind Jap lines in Malaya for the Brits he then fought
And a mention in dispatches for his efforts he got
Revered by his Comrades of Canadian Chinese
Levy had lived in China, and he spoke Cantonese

Mike Levy is remembered by the Korean Veterans Association
And the Princess Patricia’s all across this Great Nation
His loving family members have now laid Mike Levy to rest
On the 4th of June of 07 we lost one of our best!

  • DSC: Distinguished Service Cross awarded for valour in the face of the enemy
  • Arty: 4,500 Artillery Rounds were called down and directed by Levy
  • Kapyong: One of the most important battles of the Korean war
  • Seoul – and Soul: a play on words – as he helped to save both
  • MID: Mentioned in Dispatches was awarded to Levy for heroism behind Jap Lines
  • Princess Patricia’s: PPCLI – Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Levy’s Regiment

Times Colonist Tuesday June, 19 2007

MICHAEL LEVY: WAR HERO: His selfless action helped save Seoul

BY JIM FARRELL
Can West News Service

EDMONTON — Pinned down under enemy fire just outside Seoul, the situation looked bleak for Michael Levy and his platoon of Canadian soldiers.

It was April 24, 1951 — the middle of the Korean War — and the troops were dug into their trenches, as Communist Chinese forces surged toward them. The Battle of Kapyong, as it would come to be called, would help the Allies save Seoul and turn Levy, who died this month, into one of Canada’s unsung war heroes.

With the Chinese surging, and with no other option, Levy called down an Allied artillery strike. Levy used his hand-held radio to call out distances, bringing shells and mortar rounds raining down ever-closer until they exploded only 15 to 20 metres from his platoon’s trenches. Throughout the barrage, Levy crawled between trenches, keeping up his men’s spirits and urging them to fight. The Canadian line held, and Seoul was saved.

Maj. Michael Levy lived a life richer than most Hollywood screenplays. He was laid to rest last week. Flags outside the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry headquarters in Edmonton flew at half-mast to commemorate the burial one of its own.

“Maj. Michael Levy was an exceptional man who had a long and distinguished career that began with his escape from a Japanese internment camp in 1943,” said Maj. Eric Liebert, regimental major.

Hub Gray is the author of Beyond the Danger Close: The Korean Experience Revealed. He was a young officer in the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry’s 2nd Battalion and a friend of Levy’s. He said Levy’s barrage of 4,500 artillery rounds stopped the Chinese advance a mere 16 to 18 kilometres from Seoul.

But it wasn’t until 2004 that his exploit was recognized when then-governor general Adrienne Clarkson bestowed on Levy his own coat of arms.

Levy was born in India in 1925, the son of a British geologist. His family moved to Shanghai the following year. When the Japanese captured Shanghai in December 1941, the 16-year-old was imprisoned in Lungwha, the internment camp made famous by the movie Empire of the Sun. After two and a half years imprisonment, Levy and four friends escaped and made their way by foot and by junk 3,200 kilometres across occupied China to an Allied airbase.

Levy would later join the British army and learn the art of guerrilla warfare.

“The British taught him how to blow up things and slit throats, then parachuted him behind the Japanese lines into Malaya along with seven Chinese, most of them Chinese Canadians,” Gray said.

Because of the friendships he made, Levy and his family would choose Canada as their new home after the war.

When the Canadian government put out a call in 1950 for a special volunteer force to help push back the Chinese forces in South Korea, Levy sold the restaurant he’d opened in Vancouver and signed up.

Levy died June 4 after a lengthy illness and was buried in a small private service in Vancouver.