History

 

                         Fifty Years ago : cease-fire 27th July 1953

 

 CN News :A Belgian veteran during the ceremony in Korea July 27th 2003

53 years ago

written by G. De buck platoon leader 50/52 (photo left )

On September 18th. the association of the volunteer Corps for Korea will organize the ceremonies commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the raising of the Volunteer Corps for Korea. On this occasion, we bring you this article concerning the war in Korea and the participation of Belgium therein
(Translation :  Frank Huber former Coy leader( 53-55) ( photo right)

On June 25th. 1950 the North Korean Army invades the South with hundreds of tanks and the support of a large number of aircraft, with the intention of obtaining the forced unification of the country under communist rule.

How did we arrive at this situation ?

After the defeat of Japan in 1945, Korea was liberated after forty years of Japanese occupation. The world was then divided into two opposing spheres of influence. (The Yalta conference in February 1945. The USSR occupied the Northern part of the country, whereas the Americans spread their influence over the Southern part of Korea.
The United Nations decided to hold democratic elections all over the country, but met with a refusal from the USSR. Thus the Republic of Korea was founded in the Southern part of the country. The communists created the " DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF KOREA " in the North. The "iron curtain" fell between both parts of the country, along a dividing line that ran more or less along the 38th parallel
The communist raised an army of 10 divisions, equipped with hundreds of tanks and aero planes of Soviet manufacture. In South Korea, the American Military Advisors (KMAG) were the nucleus of an army that was so badly trained and poorly equipped. It  was therefore this South-Korean army that was forced to abandon the capital of Seoul to the enemy, after heavy rearguard fighting.
INTERVENTION OF THE UNITED STATES
On the same day, 25 the June, the United States asked for a reunion of The Security Council of the United Nations, witch, in the absence of the USSR, condemned the communist aggression and asked the members states to support South Korea, although that country itself was not a member of the UN. South Korea received the support of 22 countries, 17 of which furnished army, air and naval forces, 5 other taking care of medical support . The USA were given command of the UN armed forces.

 It is a fact that a third world war was prevented thanks to the decision of the UNO to save democracy from extermination

 
The Belgian intervention

The principle adopted by the United Nations was that any intervention of the armed forces of the member states had to reach battalion strength at least. Outside the rearmament of the Belgian army confronting the communist threat in Europe, Belgium therefore also supplied an operational unit for Korea. Since the Belgian constitution does not allow draftees to be sent to an overseas area op of operation, the government decided to raise a unit of volunteers of an infantry battalion strength.
It must be remembered that our supporting measures, which Belgium had decided upon on 22 July 1950, included the participation in the " Pacific Airlift" of 3 DC-4 aircraft. On the other hand several volunteers were transported by Sabena aircraft (Belgian civilian company) either on the onward or on the return journey. These aircraft came back to their country for inspection.

    THE VOLUNTEER CORPS FOR KOREA

More than 2000 candidates were examined  by the Selection centra of Ghent and Namur, and on the 18th September the officers and the non-commissioned officers arrived at the Commando Training center in MARCHE-LES-DAMES in order to receive their first and rigorous training. Approximatively 700 accepted volunteers came to the LEOPOLDSBURG CAMP on the 2nd October, and at the 7th October, the unit- a slightly modified battalion of a mixed language type - was given the name
                   "VOLUNTEER CORPS FOR KOREA"
B.U.N.C. Belgian United Nations Command, as the American command knew them.
A platoon, consisting of volunteers from the GRAND DUCHY OF LUXEMBURG also joined.
On the 3rd November 1950, the standard was allocated and presented with due ceremony by the Royal Prince BAUDOUIN (later King of Belgium) on the 8th of November 1950.
A short but very advanced training, due to the realism of the exercises, was given by the instructors of the PARA-REGIMENT and concluded by the award of 

     

 

A short but very advanced training, due to the realism of the exercises, was given by the instructors of the PARA-REGIMENT and concluded by the award of    THE BROWN BERETS  later to become so famous.

 

This beret wears the insignia representing the two Belgian Communities : A GOEDEN DAG "means good day) for the FLEMISH and a FRANK AXE for the WALLOONS.he crusade the volunteers were to undertake being symbolized by the knight's helmet of BRABTANT over the BELGIAN LION

. The sleeves of the jacket wore the " BELGIUM " badge

. On the 11th of November, the whole Battalion paraded before the UNKNOWN SOLDIER MONUMENT in Brussels.

The training was concluded in the Camps of ELSENBORN and BRASSCHAAT were exercises were conducted with live ammunition and under barrages. The Belgian- Luxemburg Battalion left Antwerp on the 18th December for the long crossing aboard the less than adequate KAMINA ship,

 arriving in PUSAN on the31th January 1951.
This was the time of the Chinese intervention and the setbacks of the UN-forces in Northern Korea. During the voyage, the Belgian wondered if they were going to arrive in complete disarray or too late. Luckily enough, the Battalion would given a chance to prove its combatively and professional efficiency under various circumstances, thus gaining the respect and confidence of all allied nations.

Battalion Commanders in combat :

LtKol BEM CRAHAY : 
28/09/50 - 21/11/51

    

 

 

 

 

 

LtKol BEM VIVARIO : 
23/02/52 - 13/02/53

LtKol BEM COOLS  : 
21/11/51 - 23/02/52

LtKol GATHY :
 13/02/53 -12/08/53

- after the cease-fire 


LtCol BODART

LtCol PIERLOT

His Standard

The standard bears the following citations in letters of gold 
Four Belgian ones, one Korean and one American

IMJIN : battle on the Imjin from 22nd till 26th April 1951
HAKTAG-NI : From 10th till 13th October 1951
CHATKOL : Continuous fighting during March-April 1953
COREE-KOREA : In action from 31st Jan 51-27th July 53

These four citations obtained the " fourragère " of the order of Leopold for the colors 
The gilded Cross of Honor for Military Merit was bestowed on the standard by the Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg and conferred on 27th May 1994.

A " LOCAL" BUT MURDEROUS AND TOTAL WAR

The Battalion executed all offensive and defensive operations in a very difficult and broken terrain, under an unfavorable climate, with burning and dusty summers, very cold winters, rain pouring down all day and the omnipresent mud from the MOUSSON.
The enemy was fanatic, very superior in numbers, better used to the climate and active during the night, which exacted an exceptional psychic and physical resistance from the Belgians. 

Approximatively 3.000 Belgians and Luxemburg volunteers signed on for Korea
117 Belgians , Luxemburg and south-Korean soldiers of the battalion were KIA ( killed in action)
5 were MIA ( missed in action)
350 wounded or maimed.
The war against the communist absolutism has exacted a heavy toll; South Korea suffered about 1.300.000 casualties,  the United Nations lost 187.000 KIA and 800.000 wounded . The country was utterly devastated.

Conclusion

These sacrifices have not been in vain. South Korea has risen from its ashes and has expanded into one of the most modern countries of the Far East.
The communist advance was stopped. More than 40 years later we witnessed the fall of the communist regime in Europe. In Korea signs of getting closer are noticeable. Let us hope that we, like our successors, will know a period of lasting understanding and PEACE.


After the return to Belgium  in July 1955 the Belgian Corps of volunteers was disbanded. The standard was handed over to the 3rd BATTALION PARACHUTISTS which carries  on the tradition.

The barrack - building  is named after Lieutenant GAILLY PIERRE (KIA in Korea 1953) 

                                                      

Lieutenant Pierre Gailly
 ( Killed in action)

Frontline The third Infantry Division

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