This month marks 70 years since the beginning of the Korean War, which saw Australian Navy, Army and Air Force personnel fight as part of the United Nations (UN) multinational force, defending South Korea from 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.
In response, then Prime Minister Robert Menzies committed 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.
Following three years of fighting an armistice was signed on 27 July 1953 after a long negotiation, however, Australians 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. Even today, 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.
As a nation, 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’.
Lest we forget.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs