Wednesday is Korean Veterans Day
Photo: General Van Fleet, General Officer Commanding, 8th US Army (far left) inspects members of the 3rd Battalion (3RAR), when bestowing the Presidential citation in recognition of the Unit’s action at Kapyong, Korea. US Major General John W O’Daniel is to Van Fleet’s left. [AWM 083857]
On 27 July each year, we commemorate Korean Veterans’ Day. This is the anniversary of the day in 1953 when an armistice was signed to end the fighting in Korea. This day is a time for us to remember the almost 18,000 Australians who served in the war, including some 340 who lost their lives.
The Korean Veterans Association of Australia will hold a wreath-laying ceremony at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance on 27 July 2022 at 11:30 am AEST.
The Korean War began on 25 June 1950 when the Korean People’s Army of North Korea invaded South Korea. The North Koreans captured South Korea’s capital, Seoul, within days.
The United Nations Security Council declared North Korea the aggressor and set up the United Nations Command, a joint force to support South Korea.
Australia was one of 21 members of the United Nations to send military forces to help South Korea.
The Korean War became one of the most destructive conflicts of the modern era. Many of Korea’s major cities were affected. The death toll rose to approximately 3 million, including many civilians.
Fighting formally ended on 27 July 1953 when an armistice was signed by officials from the United States, North Korea and China.
Some Australian defence personnel remained in Korea until 1957. They served as part of a multinational peacekeeping force in the post-armistice period.
The Korean War is sometimes referred to as the ‘forgotten war’ because it occurred between two very high-profile conflicts, World War II and the Vietnam War.
Each of Australia’s three defence services was involved in the Korean War. It was the first war for the newly formed Australian Regular Army.
Korea was the first and only time an aircraft carrier of the Royal Australian Navy had conducted wartime operations.
It was also the last time the Royal Australian Air Force engaged in air-to-air combat.
Of almost 18,000 Navy, Army and Air Force personnel who served in Korea, 340 lost their lives, over 1216 were wounded, and 29 became prisoners of war (POWs).
More than 150 Australian nursing sisters served both in Korea and Japan during the war. They treated the wounded and sick in hospitals, aboard hospital trains and on aeromedical evacuation flights.
In Australia, there was little political or community opposition to our involvement in the Korean War. Very few Australians opposed the Australian Government’s military commitment.
Australia’s involvement in Korea reaffirmed a view, formed after Japan entered World War II, that Australia’s security interests now lay within Asia and our region.
The war also formalised Australia’s military alliance with the United States in the ANZUS Treaty.
The Korean War also had implications for a much wider conflict, the Cold War.