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,
" 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?"
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