Korea: Remembering the veterans of 'forgotten war'

Discussion in 'Korea' started by dbf, Jul 11, 2013.

  1. Our bill

    Our bill Well-Known Member

    I have enjoyed reading this post Dianne and l have just finished reading To the last Round. It's about the Korean War and is about the glosters who were wiped out at the battle of IMJIN RIVER .The Korean war was an horrific war as all wars are. But this book really hit home what they were up against . Elsie
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  2. Mr Jinks

    Mr Jinks Bit of a Cad

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  3. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    I think I've already mentioned that I took my signed copy of The Edge of the Sword by Anthony Farrar-Hockley (Subsequently dubbed Farrar the Para) to the site of Gloster Hill in some kind of act of synthetic synchronicity.

    Korea is a beautiful country that must have been a ghastly place to fight a war: an endless succession of mountains and plains, far below zero and hard-dry across the winter; intolerably humid with mosquitos and an (admittedly short) rainy season in the summer.

    Nothing but admiration for those who did the job.
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2020
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  4. Tolbooth

    Tolbooth Patron Patron

    ... according to my father it was the smell of the fertilizer they put on the paddy fields that stayed with him (although it's probably improved by now!). Any 'ordure', animal or human, was used. Dad never did eat rice after that.
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  5. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Not really with reference to anything, but I saw this photograph and, despite the lowish quality, was struck by how young all the participants looked--both the Chinese prisoners and their British guard. The only clues as to identity are that he's 1st Commonwealth Division (so post-July '51) and this is on 'the western front'. They'd be old men, of course, but it's perfectly possible for some of them to be alive today in their late 80s and early 90s; one would like to think so.

    Last edited: Apr 17, 2020
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  6. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    For dbf, Charley Fortnum, Tolbooth, and all who passed this way before, and for all that may yet pass this way, words and photographs from;

    "ONE MAN'S WAR IN KOREA" by D "Lofty" Large.

    “The spirits of units like the Glosters can surely never die while they remain active units within the Army. They will have their ups and downs - and, no doubt, their clown problems - but, in the end, come the crunch, the same spirit would again sustain men in the face of overwhelming odds, should the need arise. Over the many years now, since the Korean war, people have often asked me if I think of Korea or remember anything about it.

    As far as remembering goes, this book must speak for itself. I kept no diaries or records of any kind during my military service. The dates quoted are correct from reference to various documents and factual histories such as The Imjin Roll by Colonel E.D. Harding DSO (my highly regarded company commander during the Imjin battle), but more often from reference to my Record of Army Service. The days and dates, Sunday 22 April to Wednesday 25 April 1951 are stamped into my memory forever.

    Do I ever think of Korea or the Korean war? Yes, I think of the Korean war, just as thousands of others who have been left with constant reminders. However, I count myself extremely fortunate not only to have survived the experience but to have lived my life more or less as I've wished ever since.
    The memories, even so, are there if one digs deep enough. In the course of my writing I have, on occasion, dug too deep. The sight, the sound, the smell, the feel have all come back.
    Not good news.

    Korea, Land of the Morning Calm was, to me, not all war, destruction and despair. It can be a very beautiful country, especially in the autumn, when the hills and mountains with their cloak of trees display all the vivid colours of nature. Perhaps my view of Korea in the autumn, which was of course from the confines of a prison camp, was also coloured by the fact that what I could see was outside the camp, therefore representing freedom, the outside world, untouched by thesqualor, death and disease of my immediate surroundings.
    Nevertheless, it is a beautiful country.

    Always remember, never forget,


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  7. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Further photographs from; "ONE MAN'S WAR IN KOREA" by D "Lofty" Large.

    Please, if you have the interest, seek out this work, I do not think you will be disappointed.

    Kind regards, always,


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  8. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    For all, and those who gave their all, words and photographs from;

    "THE EDGE OF THE SWORD" by Captain Anthony Farrar-Hockley D.S.O., M.C.

    "I did not need my bundle of belongings anymore. It remained on the seat by which I had been sitting. I suddenly realized that it was a very hot morning as I came down the steps into the sunlight to be clapped on the back by an American soldier who led me towards a wooden arch marked: "Welcome to Freedom". I passed underneath. It was nine o'clock on the 31st August 1953"

    Always remember, never forget,


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  9. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Over the recent years while watching Remembrance commemorations I can recall the last of the WW1 veterans, men like Harry Patch passing through. Then more lately being involved with Chindit soldiers from WW2, who are now touching 100 years old at their youngest, I thought to myself that it wouldn't be long before the senior service personnel at the Cenotaph would be the veterans of the Korean War. But then you realise that even National Servicemen who fought in Korea would now be approaching 90 years old and soon will also disappear from view. So perhaps the title of this thread is rather apt after all.
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  10. Bayonet Productions

    Bayonet Productions Lead Researcher

    Veteran interviews.

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  11. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Finding the faces of forgotten comrades

    Video in link

    Brian Hough was only 18 when he fought in the Korean War (1950-1953).

    Almost 90 now, he has been finding the photos of his forgotten comrades, who only left their names and date of death behind.


    Remembrance Sunday: Finding the faces of fallen Korean War comrades
    Brian Hough says collecting photos of fallen comrades helps people remember what their ancestors did

    Every Sunday morning, Brian Hough, 89, sits in front of his computer in Manchester and writes to the editors of local newspapers across the UK.

    Typing with two fingers - but with remarkable speed - he has been doing this for the past 15 years.

    In the emails, Brian is sending a letter asking people to send him photos and stories of his fallen comrades during the Korean War between 1950 and 1953.

    He was called up for national service when he was 18 and served in the Korean War as a recruit in the King's Regiment.

    Brian says that there is nothing glorifying about war, but that the sacrifices of ordinary young people should be remembered.

    "I have a list of all the newspapers printed throughout the United Kingdom. I do a geographical area each week," he says.

    "As an example, this week, it might be the Yorkshire area, and I'll send out letters to all the newspapers I'm aware of. The following week, it could be Kent or Wales."


    An exhibition of the photos at the cemetery pays tribute to the 2,300 UN fallen servicemen

    It takes about six months for Brian to send out his plea across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

    And when the cycle ends, he starts all over again.

    The UK sent around 56,000 troops to Korea, making it the second largest army after the United States, 1,177 died during the war and 889 are laid to rest in Busan, South Korea.

    A total of 2,300 UN fallen are buried in the world's only United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Korea.

    "The way the Korean people take care of that cemetery is… Well, I can't say enough about that. It's truly beautiful," Brian says.

    "The lads, most of them that died, they went into the army with their pals, and they are lying with their pals."

    Of the soldiers who were deployed in Korea, about 70 percent were national service men, who were only 18 or 19 when they died.

    After their parents died, many of them were forgotten forever. Their names and date of death were the only clues that they too had once lived.

    Brian served in the Korean War from August 1952 to October 1953

    About 15 years ago, the Office of the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Korea (UNMCK) asked British veterans for help in finding ways to breathe life back into these fallen soldiers.

    Jim Grundy, who died in August, started the project, but Brian soon took over as Jim's health deteriorated.

    To date, Brian has collected about 400 photos.

    These photos are then sent to the cemetery where a permanent exhibition is held in memory of these soldiers.

    "In the early days, photographs were coming in week by week. Now, I've had six this year, that's all," he says.

    "The photographs we receive now are from nieces and nephews and friends, of course.

    "But they are still coming, slowly now."

    He says a few months ago he received a photo of a man who was exactly his age, adding: "He was born on the same day as myself, 8 September, 1933.

    "And that, that hit me a bit."

    The Korean War is often called the "forgotten war".

    Twenty-two nations fought under the UN flag, just five years after World War Two, when no-one wanted to talk about war anymore.

    Many do not even know about the involvement of the British in the Korean War.

    The Commission for the UNMCK, consisting of 11 member nations, now manages the cemetery in Korea

    So when Brian returned to the UK with his comrades in 1954, they were given a package of a cheese sandwich, half a crown (the equivalent of £2.50 today), and a train ticket home.

    No ceremony, no form of welcome. And they went straight back to live their normal lives.

    And that is probably how it has gone for the last 68 years.

    The United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Korea is the only UN-designated cemetery in the world

    Brian says there were times when he had not received a letter for months and he thought that maybe now was the time to stop the project, but then he received a letter from a woman with a picture of her brother.

    He cannot stop, just yet.

    "It's helping people to remember what their ancestors did. Not just for the United Kingdom, but for the world, if you think about it," he says.

    "It's history. When you think there were over three million people who died in three years in Korea.

    "And people don't know about that… They should do."

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  12. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce

  13. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

  14. Grasmere

    Grasmere Well-Known Member

    Last edited: Nov 7, 2023
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  15. Warlord

    Warlord Veteran wannabe

    The UN contingent, IMHO, with maybe (just maybe) the exception of Commonwealth units, is the victim of a gross under-research derived from the show being mainly a US one.

    Thus, any contribution towards recognition of the effort and sacrifice of the rest of the countries involved (including the Commonwealth), is greatly appreciated.

    There should be encouragement towards international authors to produce work covering their respective contingents, as there are some thin booklets available, but true in-depth books about say, the Dutch deployment during Wonju, or the heroic Turkish stand at Kunu-ri, are sadly lacking.
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  16. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Struck me recently that the Korean War chaps are maybe a decade older than my old man.
    And he's in his 80s.

    Usually 'The Forgotten Story!' etc. is a ghastly bit of history book/documentary blurb rubbish that sets my teeth on edge.
    Korea, however: Probably fair enough.

    Say what you like about Hastings (I can join you in some of that), but his Korean War book is a damned readable introduction.
    Certainly key to me paying just a tad more attention to things.

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  17. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    If things all go to plan on Remembrance Sunday, I may well pop in to the Lamb & Flag pub (Covent Garden) and meet up with the Korean veterans who frequent that hostelry after the Cenotaph march. In 2010 I was treated to a post-Cenotaph dinner in there by some veterans of the Queen's Regiment, once they had been told I was the grandson of a Chindit. It wasn't until I had eaten my fill, that I told them granddad was with the King's Regiment!! I then retired rather swiftly to the tube station.
  18. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Mist over Dartmoor

    For at least one, it was the beginning of a career: Peter de la Billière - Wikipedia

    Mentioned in his autobiography Looking for Trouble (SAS to Gulf Command).
    Joined as a Private in the KSLI
    Commissioned into the DLI
    Arrived in Korea on his 19th Birthday.
    Became known as "Eddie Smith" due to his unpronounceable name.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2023
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  19. pete

    pete Junior Member

    Some Commandos can be found here

    Commando Veterans Archive | Korean War | ͏
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