Sixty-five years after the outbreak of the Korean War, veterans from Cardiff, Mid and South East Wales will lay up their historic standard at city centre church St John’s in a special service at noon on Tuesday.
Men from Wales in the Royal Navy, Army, Royal Marines and Royal Air Force, forming, for one period, the 1st Battalion Welch Regiment, were engaged in the conflict, which began in 1950 as a civil war between North and South Korea. Hostilities soon became international when, under US leadership, the United Nations joined in support of South Korea and the People’s Republic of China entered to aid North Korea.
The first British troops from Hong Kong, and Royal Navy elements joined the United Nations Forces in 1950, and Army, Navy, Royal Marines and Royal Air Force rapidly expanded their presence. The first British marine to be killed, on a commando raid in North Korea, was marine Peter Jones from Penarth.
The international conflict continued until 1953 when an armistice was signed and the United Nations’ contributing countries withdrew. But the US retain forces in South Korea to this day, and North and South remain officially in a state of war.
Branch President, Brigadier Ron Jenkins of St Clears will formally hand over the standard to the church on Tuesday, October 20, for safe keeping. “Sadly, due to age and declining membership numbers, the national British Korean Veterans Association has been wound up,” he said.
“So we in the Cardiff, Mid and South East branch of the British Korean Veterans Association must also formally close and lay up our Standard. But we do hope that through other Service groups, including the Royal British Legion, comrades will be able to enjoy each other’s company from time to time.”
Priest in charge at St John’s, the Revd Canon Dr Sarah Rowland Jones, who will receive the Standard, said, “In 201, I was able to see the continuing legacy of the war for myself, and the work of Korean churches today to pursue social justice and reconciliation, when I attended a conference in Seoul.
“Though tension on the Korean peninsula is often in the news, we tend to forget the historic involvement of British forces. We are glad to be able to give a permanent home to the standard, and honour those who strove then for a lasting solution, even as today we must pray for those who still work for peace.”
The Standard will join many others at St John’s of a range of Service Organisations and the British Legion.
The service on Tuesday, October 20, is at noon, and is open to all. Reporters and photographers are welcome to attend.