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Korean War

Korea Veterans’ Day

Korea Veteran’s Day is commemorated on Monday 27 July – a day set aside annually to remember the contribution made by Australian forces to what is commonly referred to as ‘the forgotten war’.  A war in which some 17,000 Australians served, where more than 330 lost their lives and from which 1,500 returned to Australia wounded.

The Korean War commenced on 25 June, 1950 when troops from the Soviet backed North Korean Army crossed the 38th parallel to begin a civil war with the South. Australia’s involvement was significant. Our nation formed part of the United Nations (UN) forces, defending South Korea against the combined North Korean and Chinese forces.

The Australian government under Menzies called for 1000 men who had prior military experience in World War II to enlist in the army. These men were known as the Korean Force or K-Force.

On the 65th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War (25 June, 2015) the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson, encouraged Australians to remember all those who served in Korea.

“In addition to fighting a determined enemy, our soldiers, sailors and airmen endured the hardships of extreme weather conditions, fighting in freezing temperatures during winter and in scorching heat in summer,” Senator Ronaldson said.

North Korean forces crossed the border and advanced toward the South Korean capital of Seoul capturing it within days of the commencement of hostilities. They continued toward the port of Pusan, where at the request of the United Nations Security Council, Australia contributed No. 77 Squadron RAAF and the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR), both of which at that time were stationed in Japan under the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF).

When war broke out, 77 Sqn was immediately dispatched to Korea, where it became the first UN air unit to enter the war, primarily in ground support, combat air patrol, and escort missions.  3 RAR was rapidly committed as Australia’s main land force forming part of the 27th Commonwealth Brigade. It was one of three units to receive the Presidential Unit Citation (US) after the Battle of Kapyong.

Three years of fighting finally led to a cease-fire on 27 July 1953, though Australia’s presence in South Korea carried on into the post-armistice period (1953–57) providing support to a country ravaged by war.

The South Australian branch of the Korea and South East Asia Forces (KSEAF) Association will commemorate this year’s Korea Veterans Day with members of Adelaide’s Korean community at a luncheon taking place on the day.

“We like to get together with the Korean community in South Australia. It’s the best way to commemorate the contribution Australian’s made to this struggle and to recall the mates who gave their lives for South Korea’s freedom.”

If you would like to enquire about attendance at the luncheon please contact the KSEAF Association’s SA Branch President, John Jarrett on 8382 1816.

To find out more about Australia’s involvement in the Korean War visit the Australian War Memorial’s official histories page via the link below:

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South Australia
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John Jarrett
8382 1816