Korean Veterans’ Day

Sixty-eight years ago today, the Korean War Armistice was signed, marking the end of a 3-year conflict. Of the more than 17,000 Australians who fought, some 340 died defending South Korea, around 1,216 were wounded and 29 became prisoners of war.

Australian personnel served as part of a multi-national force with the United Nations Command.

Australia was still recovering from losses suffered during the Second World War when the Korean People’s Army launched an offensive into South Korea, capturing Seoul within a week.

In June 1950, Prime Minister Robert Menzies committed ships of the Royal Australian Navy to a conflict that would see 21 nations join together to defend South Korea.

Units from the Australian Army and the Royal Australian Air Force joined shortly thereafter.

‘Our forces fought courageously defending the freedom of South Korea, despite the harsh climatic conditions and hazardous terrain on the peninsula,’ says Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Andrew Gee.

‘At places like Kapyong, Maryang San and many others, Australians served with distinction and made an invaluable contribution to the UN forces’ efforts to keep South Korea free.

‘On Korean Veterans’ Day, we pause to remember the men and women who served and sacrificed for Australia in that conflict.’

The agreement for an Armistice was reached on 19 July 1953 between the UN Command and North Korea. The Armistice was signed at 10am on 27 July 1953 and came into effect 12 hours later. Sporadic fighting continued throughout the day but with evening’s fall came silence.

‘We should also give thanks to the Australian Defence personnel who served in Korea up until 1957 as part of a multinational peacekeeping force in the post-armistice period,’ says Mr Gee.

For more information on the history of the Korean War, visit the Korean War page on DVA’s Anzac Portal.

Two generals inspect a line of soldiers in slouch hats standing at attention

General Van Fleet, General Officer Commanding, 8th US Army (far left) inspects members of the 3rd Battalion (3RAR), when bestowing the Presidential citation in recognition of the Unit’s action at Kapyong, Korea. US Major General John W O’Daniel is to Van Fleet’s left. [AWM 083857]