Sixty-five years ago, the armistice ending three years of fighting on the Korean peninsula was signed.
Within days of the invasion of South Korea by North Korean forces on 25 June 1950, the United Nations (UN) Security Council had the support of 21 member nations to defend South Korea, including Australia.
The Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force committed forces to the United Nations effort in Korea within a week of the war’s beginning, Australian ground troops arrived in September 1950.
The armistice was signed on 27 July 1953, the last troops did not leave Korean shores until August 1957.
Approximately 18,000 Australian service personnel served in Korea between 1950 and 1957, including Army and Royal Australian Air Force nurses.
Australia suffered some 1,500 casualties, including over 350 who lost their lives, and 30 who were taken prisoner. More than 40 Australians are still listed as missing in action. The Korean War marked the first collective UN military action and Australian sailors, soldiers and airmen won international respect for their courage, endurance and combat skills.
Sadly, looking back on the Korean War, one Australian soldier remarked that ‘most Australians of the Korean War regard themselves as the forgotten veterans of a forgotten war’.
In this, the final year of the Anzac Centenary, it is my sincere hope these words are no longer true and that the men and women who bravely served in the Korean War know that Australia honours their service.
Each year on 27 July we observe Korean Veterans’ Day and I encourage everyone to honour the service and sacrifice of those who served in the Korean War so they know they are not forgotten.
I will also have the honour of attending the commemorative service for the 65th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice on Anzac Parade in Canberra to meet with and thank veterans of the war and their families.
I encourage those in the community to attend the service or watch it live on the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Facebook page.
Lest we forget.
Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
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