Korean War

Published in 20th-century / Contemporary History, Issue 1 (Jan/Feb 2011), Letters, Volume 19

Sir,—I was interested in Tom Farrell’s account of some of the Irishmen who fought in the Korean War (HI 18.5, Sept./Oct. 2010). This was the first war in which the United Nations organised a task force, under its own command, to enforce its mandate. As well as the troops referred to by Tom Farrell, there were many other Irishmen involved in the UN force, namely the men of the 1st Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles (RUR) and of the 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars. These famous Irish regiments formed part of the 29th Infantry Brigade, which was heavily involved over the New Year of 1950–1 on the Imjin River at a battle at Chaegunghyon. This was followed by a fighting retreat across the Han River, pursued by the advancing Chinese. The RUR alone lost over 200 officers and men killed, missing and wounded. Later, in April 1951 the brigade was involved again at the Battle of Imjin and the RUR again lost many men. A small memorial was erected near the Imjin River in memory of the Irishmen killed during this conflict. A town was later sited nearby and it was decided to bring the memorial stone back to Ireland. With the help of the South Korean government it was collected by HMS Belfast and taken to the RUR depot at Ballymena. Only this April the stone was moved again, on the closing of the depot. It has been rededicated and stands proudly in the grounds of the City Hall in Belfast for all to see. It is a proud reminder of Irishmen who lost their lives to uphold world order under the command of the United Nations.—Yours etc.,

PATRICK CROSS

Downpatrick

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