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The Korean War

Following the Japanese surrender in 1945, Korea was split onto two. The North, called the People’s Republic of Korea, was under Russian influence. The South, the Democratic Republic of Korea, was dominated by America. Fear and suspicion grew between them and in 1950 the North Korean People’s Army crossed the frontiers between North and South: the 38th Parallel.
The war lasted 3 years. The first year saw rapid movement and changes of fortune, but it was followed by two years of stalemate

The United Nations (UN) Forces, with strong American contingent, fought the North Koreans; initially falling back to the far south and then clawing their way back 300 miles, past the original frontier.
China was neutral but had warned it would help North Korea if the original frontier, the 38th parallel were crossed. China sent an army of 180,000 men, which surprised the UN troops and pushed them back to the south coast. The UN troops, in turn, crept gradually north again using so much heavy weaponry that the advance was given the chilling title ‘the meat grinder’.

By June 1951 the line had once again settled around the 38th parallel. A stalemate, causing many casualties, continued until 1953 when a cease-fire was finally maintained, although no peace agreement was signed.

The 1st Battalion in Korea

The 1st Bn arrived in Korea in November 1951 during the long and difficult truce talks. It spent 10 months almost constantly in the front line, improving line defences with barbed wire and trench systems and sending out patrols and laying ambushes. They won a number of decorations for gallantry in Korea but suffered considerable casualties, 33 officers and men dead, 108 injured.

" Nobody told us what the war was about. We just picked it up as we went along. To be honest, when I went out there I didn't know if I was fighting for the North or South; it was as bad as that, because it had all been put on us and within two weeks we were on the move. I used to think why are we put here, what's it all about?"

Bob Walding ex-Royal Norfolk Regiment

Today Korea remains a divided peninsular, with the Korean demilitarised zone being the de facto border between the two states. South Korea’s official name today is the Republic of Korea and the powers of authority are shared between the President, legislature and the courts. In contrast, North Korea is a communist state which is rules by a one man dictatorship.

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