70 Years Since the Korean War Began

Article published by Breitbart, 25 June 2020. © Richard Kemp

Seventy years ago today, on 25 June 1950, the Korean People’s Army crossed the 38th Parallel and advanced into South Korea with infantry, tanks and artillery, and the support of China and Soviet Russia.

Within five days they had hurled the ill-equipped South Korean army back, decimating a 95,000 strong force to 20,000. The UN Security Council called on its members to send forces to the aid of South Korea. The US acted immediately, initially deploying a division from Japan by early July. Throughout the three-year conflict, the US accounted for 90 per cent of the UN force.

British Commonwealth forces were among those that followed them into Korea, with Australian troops from Japan leading the way. The Australian, British, Canadian, New Zealand, and Indian troops made up what became the 1st Commonwealth Division. In all, 90,000 British troops had fought in Korea by the time the war ended in 1953.

With both sides fought to a standstill, the result was stalemate, and remains to this day a frozen war. Often thought of as ‘The Forgotten War’, few, either in Britain or the US know much about it beyond the TV comedy series M*A*S*H.

Yet Korea saw some of the bloodiest fighting in any conflict before or since, with a death toll of 300,000 UN and South Korean troops, up to 735,000 North Korean and Chinese troops, and an estimated 2—3 million civilians from both sides.

By September 1950 UN forces had been thrown back into an enclave of south-east Korea around Pusan, covering just 10 per cent of the country, with the South Korean capital, Seoul, in enemy hands. On 15 September US General Douglas MacArthur, the UN commander, launched an amphibious attack at Inchon. It was one of (more…)

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