The Korean War 1950-1953

Moment of solitude during the Korean War / warhistoryonline.com

Moment of solitude during the Korean War / warhistoryonline.com

All wars are bloody, some are found to be unnecessary after the event. The Great War (1914 – 18) was unnecessary and could have been avoided, if the politicians involved had had the least interest in avoiding it. Sadly, it is not the politicians who have actually to fight a war, or die in it, though some of the decisions made during it are so bad, the politicians should by rights commit suicide, or at least do the right thing by suffering a heart attack. History shows that attacks of remorse are rare among politicians.

The Korean War (1950 – 53) is forgotten now, but at the time it seemed of great importance. It was fought between North Korea and China on one side, and South Korea, the United States and United Nations forces on the other.

Korea, north and south was one of those post-war creations (1948) bound to be troublesome from its inception. Relations between north and south were embittered by plans for eventual unification that were always contrary. The border between north and south was the scene of repeated incursions and bloody conflicts that the rest of the world affected not to notice, but everybody had to sit up when on 25 June, 1950 a surprise North Korean attack over the 38th parallel pushed American and South Korean forces south towards Pusan. By September the invasion was too successful to go unnoticed, even by the blind, deaf and dumb nonentities ‘working’ at the UN.

In the UN building in New York the Russian Soviet representative was mysteriously not present when the Securuty Council asked UN members to provide military assistance to South Korea. By the 15 September General Macarthur led US and South Korean forces in a counter-offensive at Inchon. By the last days of October these armies had shoved the North Koreans all the way back to the Yalu River, which happened to be the frontier with the People’s (sic) Republic of China.

Chinese forces immediately entered the war on the northern side, driving relentlessly (and bloodily) south to recapture the South Korean capital of Seoul by January, 1951. Among the UN forces was a large fighting unit from Britain. In one of the battles a battalion had all its officers and senior NCOs killed, leaving leadership to one sergeant Vic Speakman. This tall, sweating soldier, formerly best known for being drunk and disorderly, battled on against overwhelming Chinese odds in defence of his trenches. Out of ammunition, he and a handful of men fought with broken beer bottles, molotov cocktails and the bayonet. Sgt. Speakman was later awarded the Victoria Cross, but became drunk again during his celebration, and was reduced for the third time to Private.

After months of fighting, watched with increasing enjoyment by Soviet Russia, the war was stabilized in near-deadlock, close to the original boundary line (the 38th parallel) unlawfully crossed by North Korea. General Ridgway arrived for the peace negotiations after the US President had fired the popular Macarthur. The negotiations were not at all successful, partly because both sides claimed to have won the war, when in fact neither had. They had merely lost hundreds of thousands of young men.

At last, on 27 July 1953, an armistice was signed at Panmumjom. The last line of battle was adopted as the boundary between North and South Korea. No decade has passed since then, without at least one armed incursion from one side to the other. The War was deemed necessary by the United States as part of the crusade against Communism. The later War in Vietnam, which also ended in stalemate, if not definite victory for the North, was fought with the same pretext (or concept) in mind.

 

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