Period preceding the date where our Belgian Battalion take stand in battle in Korea.
The beginning of the War in Korea was a cruel war that was fought out on a mountainous and treacherous grounds, by an extreme heat and bitter could in snow and ice, mud, stench and suffocating matter, and that all in a dark far corner of the World. An American staff Officer that in the Second World War served declared: “The War of Korea was the most difficult war from the history of the United States.” The War of Korea did many fear that “ Third World War” on break out stood. An immense confrontation in a time of panic only, also of heroes courage. A time of withdraw and march, of misunderstandings and odds
Korea was in the summer and the fall of 1950 the dirtiest place where am been”, declared above quoted officer. During the years of the War of Korea, close to 4 millions of people deceased, almost ten time so much as in 10 year Vietnam. It was the most critical moment from the Cold War, a possible battlefield on which the use NUCLEAR WEAPONS was alarmingly nearby. The superpowers of the Second World War stood for the first time eyes in eyes. Today is the War of Korea almost forgotten. It was a horrible war to reminded what become on there. A Forgotten War, except for those that were there. A GI says to his friend, “We go fixed and certainly to the heaven, for now we already are in hell”.
The Asian peninsula now yet called “The Country of the Quiet Morning”, was a wakened to the being born day of 25 June 1950, through a massive unexpected attack of the North-Korean Communists. Their message was without ambiguity, clear and net:
Incorporate South-Korea unde rCommunist Government.
The North-Korean Prime Minister KIM-IL-SUNG send 100.000 good trained and good armed troops in the attack. They flowed South-Korea and surprised the brave but badly equipped Army of South-Korea. The Security Council of the United Nations takes UNANIMOUSLY, a resolution with the message that North-Korea must receive all the assistance that is necessary to push back the attack.
The President of the United States TRUMAN, thought that the invasion a derivation maneuver was for an invasion of Russia in Westerly Europe. He sent immediately, upon the advice of General Mac Arthur, legendary general from the Second World War that after the retirement of the Philippine by the Japanese invasion, had pronounced the legendary words:
I’LL COME BACK
540 American soldiers from the Army of occupation of MacArthur in Japan were steered immediately to Korea under the appellation TASK FORCE SMITH. One thought that this Task Force namely better equipped was against tanks. Their mission was to stop the advance of the North-Korean tanks. One hoped that this Unity wanted not to walk as they these Russian tanks saw. It is at Osan(Korea), in July 1950, that the Task Force Smith and the North-Korean tanks confronted themselves for the first time. A column Russian T-34 tanks arrived right on the anti-tank Unity buried; With their so said anti-tank arms of the Second World War, they hit the tanks, only these remained normally further ride. There was a very large disillusionment by the Americans that were submerged.
In all, 155 victims fell and the others withdraw themselves. The morale of these men collapsed and they were the fray to the BUG-OUT Fever, the disease the more contagious that can declare itself among the soldiers. The from this coming panic worked fast and fundamentally. In the rain and the chaos, many men wandered summon flattened long over the country and tried to reach the safe rear. The men were hysterical of fear and run gotten lost through the streets. An American war correspondent that been by the Marines in the Second World War, could its eyes do not believe. It was pitiful to see the American soldiers to be so beaten. There was misery and frustration. The strongest large power of all the times was, 5 years after the glorious victory on Japan , humiliated and beaten in a country that a lot of these American soldiers did not even know that it existed.
What are we coming to do here and why?
To half of July, the North-Korean Army push on with its tanks towards the South, just as the Blitzkrieg of the Germans in 1940, that wild crossed Belgium and France .The Americans and the South-Koreans see impotently closed and prepared self for on the most awful. Now only, people discover where was situated Korea and immediately came the question:
When the affair became critical, the Council of the United Nations named the more powerful man of Asia as Commander in Chief, the General MacArthur. This General move immediately its favorite Division, namely the 7th Cavalry Division US. However, he lived yet in a fuddle of victories and estimated the situation in Korea wrong in the thought that de North-Koreans aborigines and further forgot he, that its Army no longer that of 5 year before was. The North-Koreans laminated the ROK ( Republic of North-Korea ) Army and the American troops, and these were repressed to 50km of the harbor City of PUSAN . The Americans thought that they fast will be pulled back from Korea .
Then, a Brigade of US Marines was thrown in the battle. On the hills of the South side of the river NAKTONG, the Americans position held good despite of violent attacks and the mortal artillery shots. General Walker pulled no meter more back and that was the beginning of the counter-offensive. The occupied the hills near WAEGMAN (first halt of the Belgian Battalion in 1951).It did a suffocating heat and they fought for every hill. The fight waved up and down.
Thought a dared landing in INCHON , the United Nations troops took the initiative in hands. The Communists had to pull back past the 38th Parallel. The Americans sat them on the heels. The United Nations troops became strengthens already with the Canadians, the French, the Britons, the Turks and the Dutchmen.
End of November, the total victory is almost obtained, but MacArthur is unaware of the rumors that the Chinese leader MAO would have sent Chinese troops of a force of 250.000 men, for fear that the Americans do not invade China.
The CHOSIN RESERVOIR
On November 27 1950 , the 10 th Army Corps US runs in the trap. 100.000 Chinese lie to wait them in the mountains around.
The valiant US Marines were assails by a biting cold of minus 40 degrees. They lost 10.000 men. The 7th Infantry Division also got heavy blows. An aerial dropping fell, in the hands of the Chinese and the retirement road towards HUGARU is cut.
The Chinese that had invaded Korea hunted the troops of the United Nations, that supposed to bring dramatic consequences. THREATS OF A NEW WORLD WAR.
MacArthur had an enormous EGO. He wanted to have never wrong and sticks the debt on the Government TRUMAN. But the horrible retirement begins. The 10th Corps groups together itself in inhuman circumstances and reach the harbor of HUNGNAM of from which they can escape. Exhausted but nonetheless determined. The wave of Chinese Assault graft continues his way. They drive away the United Nations troops till under the 38th Parallel. The panic installs itself, luck exists of a total defeat for the UNO. In its large EGO, MacArthur asks:
Truman is disposed to give the permission for he had already uses the nuclear bomb twice against Japan . But the Allies were frightened, the nuclear war in Europe would unavoidable be there. The first Minister of England ATLEE flies to the United States and can of thought do change Truman. The United Nations troops withdraw themselves completely and Seoul falls for the second time in the hands of the North-Koreans and Inchon is totally destroyed by the Americans
A strange coincidence is the beginning of the alteration of the invasion of South-Korea by the North-Koreans.s.
On December 23 1950, the General Walker, Commander of the 8th Army Corps, dies in an accident and is followed through General RIDGWAY an Airborne Officer that had distinguished itself in the Second World War in Sicily, Normandy and the Ardennes (Belgium). He gets the complete support of General MacArthur. This General Ridgway reestablishes the fight spirit in the 8th Army of an amazing and short manner. The troops gets better food, equipment, ammunition and weapons. Its tactics: Attack the Chinese in the hills. And it gave bewildering results. Also the Commander of the Chinese troops makes a complete fault of estimation. Its troops too had shifted themselves, so that the supplying way became too long, in addition their spirit left and the troops are unwilling and bad trained militiamen. Then came also the tremendous aerial supports that did as the Chinese no longer dared to attack in broad daylight and hid themselves in of big tunnels. This absurd war turned again totally. The Chinese are pushed back till where they had begun, but these perished yet 54,000 soldiers of which 107 Belgians and also 148,000 civilians.
After the discharge of General MacArthur, becomes he in April 1951 Commander of the United Nations troops in Korea and came there in the Korean War a kind of blow count through which the peaces negotiations begun, that however two years lasted.
On the far Asian peninsula is the World barely escapes at an inconceivable disaster, that million and million victims would have demanded, perhaps well the end of us consist in Europe . The paid price, would be millions of human lives, in an infernal war that tested the capacity of the people to survive, to tolerate and to withstand. Yet very few people know the history of the Korean War, do not understand or do not want to understand. Soon there will be no longer any veterans of Korea , I fear then also as the presents “forgotten War”, will become the “disappeared War”, what may, but never cannot be forgotten, those that gave their live for the PEACE.
2nd Lt Dillen Jan, platoon leader in Korea , webmaster of the site. Documentation ( Retreat Hell- War and peace different sites
Translation in English BY Korean veteran G. Van Athenhove
written by G. De buck honorary commandant and Honorary Colonel Stafofficer Marc Watthé
G. De buck platoon leader 50/52 (photo left )- vice president of the association of the volunteer Corps for Korea
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 interventione prin
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
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 :
PS : Between 19.12.1953 and 27.5.1954, Major Brichant became CO a.i of the battalion
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.
3171 Belgians and 78 Luxemburg volunteers signed on for Korea
2636 volunteers tokes part of the fights
2801 volunteers signed up for one year 352 for 2 years en 18 for 3 years
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.
Casualties of the belgian-luxembourg battalion
Killed in action : 101 Belgian - 2 Luxemburg's en 9 Korean soldiers
Missed in action : 5 Belgian soldiers
wounded : 478 Belgian soldiers
More then 1350 volunteers passed away after they came home from Korea
50 Years ago
Honorary Colonel Stafofficer Marc Watthé , platoon leader at the C Coy and later on officer of communications (pronto) of the battalion from 1953 till 1955
n July 1955 200 Belgian volunteers left Korea and returned to Belgium. The followed article describes the last days of the battalion in Korea but also the history of the battalion after the seace-fire until the end of this famous battalion .al.