This month marks 70 years since the beginning of the Korean War, which saw the Australian Defence Force through its Navy, Army and Air Force personnel join the United Nations (UN) multinational force, defending South Korea from the forces of North Korea and China.
On 25 June 1950, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Army crossed south of the border into the Republic of Korea and captured the capital, Seoul, within days.
Prime Minister Robert Menzies responded by committing ships of the Royal Australian Navy to the Korean War, which were soon joined by units of the Royal Australian Air Force and the Australian Army.
The war raged on for three years until an armistice was signed on 27 July 1953 follow extensive negotiations. Australian military personnel remained in Korea for another four years as military observers.
More than 17,000 Australian personnel served in the Korean War and post-Armistice period, earning international respect for their courage, endurance and combat skills. Australia suffered some 1,500 casualties, including more than 350 who died and 30 who were taken prisoner. To this day, some 40 Australians are listed as missing in action.
More than 150 Australian nursing sisters also served in Korea and at the British Commonwealth Military General Hospital in Kure, Japan.
I encourage all Australians on 25 June to pause and remember the service and sacrifice of all the brave Australian men and women who served during the Korean War and say ‘thank you for your service’. We are forever in their debt.
Lest we forget.