TODAY, on Korean Veterans’ Day, Australia is encouraged to commemorate the more than 17,000 Australians who fought against the spread of communism and in defence of South Korea during the first open conflict of the Cold War – the Korean War.
On 25 June this year, we marked the 70th anniversary of the commencement of the Korean War that began when the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Army crossed the border into the Republic of Korea, capturing Seoul within days.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said personnel from the Royal Australian Navy, the Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force served as part of the United Nations (UN) multinational force.
“Despite still recovering from losses suffered during the Second World War, Australia was the second of 21 nations to commit troops, ships, aircraft and medical units in defence of South Korea,” Mr Chester said.
“For more than three years Australians fought with distinction in an unrelenting war of attrition, where we suffered some 1,500 casualties during the war and post-Armistice period, which tragically included the deaths of more than 350 Australians.
“More than 150 Australian nursing sisters served both in Korea and Japan, where they were tasked with treating the wounded and sick, including sicknesses brought on by harsh climatic conditions, remote mountain fighting and trench warfare.”
An agreement for an Armistice was reached on 19 July 1953 between the UN and communist forces and the date for the signing was set for 27 July 1953. The Armistice was signed at 10am and came into effect 12 hours later, which meant sporadic fighting continued throughout the day. Australian forces remained in Korea until 1957 as part of a multi-nation peacekeeping force.
“The Korean War is sometimes referred to the ‘forgotten war’, as it occurred between the large scale Second World War and the first war to be broadcast on television, the Vietnam War,” Mr Chester said.
“Each year on 27 July we remember all who served, and all who lost their lives and it is my hope that these men and women, and their families, know that they are not forgotten. To all of Australia’s Korean War veterans, we thank you for your service.”
Open Arms — Veterans & Families Counselling provides free and confidential support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families. Help is available 24/7 on 1800 011 046 (international: +61 1800 011 046 or +61 8 8241 4546) or visit www.OpenArms.gov.au
For more information on the history of the Korean War, visit the Korean War page on the Anzac Portal (anzacportal.dva.gov.au/wars-and-missions/korean-war-1950-1953/korean-war).