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The Fighting Irish of the Korean War


Catalpast

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Nov 17, 2012
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26,196
What readers to make of this?

I always thought the Irish State was neutral in the Korean War (1950-1953)

In fact we were not even in the United Nations at that time.


Dear Joseph,Yesterday evening I attended Andrew Salmon’s lecture on the “The Fighting Irish of the Korean War” at the Korea Foundation...

It was really history as theatre and I, like the rest of the audience, left with a vivid account of experience of the 1st Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles (RUR) and 8th Kings Royal Irish Hussars in the Korean War....

The RUR were the spearhead battalion of the British 29th Brigade, Britain’s strategic reserve which was committed to the Korean campaign. Composed 50/50 of Catholics and Protestant, its soldiers were tough and experienced fighters, proud and quick with their fists....

Though he has interviewed many Irish veterans and clearly loves the men, ethos and memory of the RUR and Irish Hussars, he eschews the notion that he is an expert on Irish involvement. Still, I am deeply grateful for all that he has done to shed some light on this little known dimension of Irish Korean relations. You can check out his website here

To the Last Round | The Official Website of the Book by Andrew Salmon

Today, the RUR lives on as the Royal Irish Rangers.

Have a good weekend,
Best wishes,
Eamonn McKee
Irish Ambassador to Seoul


The Seoul Times
 

shutuplaura

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The Commonwealth commited a division to the war which was a pretty sizeable force for each of the countries involved. The involvement seems to be largely forgotten by the public at large in each of these countries. It has been overshadowed to a large extent in the US too but not to the same extent. I guess the lack of any clearly defined victory makes its legacy hard for popular memory to recall properly.
I was reading a book about Irish defence policy since independence which reckons that the Soviet refusal to allow Ireland join the UN until '55 allowed the government to avoid a potentially embarassing situation where they might have to support either communist bloc aggression or the partition of Korea.

My grand uncle was there with the US army by the way after he emigrated to the US. He's still alive though I have only met him once and never asked him about it.
 

Catalpast

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The Commonwealth commited a division to the war which was a pretty sizeable force for each of the countries involved. The involvement seems to be largely forgotten by the public at large in each of these countries. It has been overshadowed to a large extent in the US too but not to the same extent. I guess the lack of any clearly defined victory makes its legacy hard for popular memory to recall properly.
I was reading a book about Irish defence policy since independence which reckons that the Soviet refusal to allow Ireland join the UN until '55 allowed the government to avoid a potentially embarassing situation where they might have to support either communist bloc aggression or the partition of Korea.

My grand uncle was there with the US army by the way after he emigrated to the US. He's still alive though I have only met him once and never asked him about it.
Thanks for the info

- but my point is that the Irish Ambassador is praising the military actions of another State in Korea at a time when this State was Neutral!

Bizarre and inappropriate surely?

Any Ambassador representing the Irish State should not meddle in the internal affairs or history of the State he has been posted to IMO
 

Tea Party Patriot

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Joined
Oct 31, 2010
Messages
11,557
The Commonwealth commited a division to the war which was a pretty sizeable force for each of the countries involved. The involvement seems to be largely forgotten by the public at large in each of these countries. It has been overshadowed to a large extent in the US too but not to the same extent. I guess the lack of any clearly defined victory makes its legacy hard for popular memory to recall properly.
I was reading a book about Irish defence policy since independence which reckons that the Soviet refusal to allow Ireland join the UN until '55 allowed the government to avoid a potentially embarassing situation where they might have to support either communist bloc aggression or the partition of Korea.

My grand uncle was there with the US army by the way after he emigrated to the US. He's still alive though I have only met him once and never asked him about it.
I think myself the disaster that was Vietnam following so quickly on its heels is the main reason that Korea was left to the back pages of the history books.
 

Eire1976

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Joined
Nov 20, 2010
Messages
14,190
What readers to make of this?

I always thought the Irish State was neutral in the Korean War (1950-1953)

In fact we were not even in the United Nations at that time.


Dear Joseph,Yesterday evening I attended Andrew Salmon’s lecture on the “The Fighting Irish of the Korean War” at the Korea Foundation...

It was really history as theatre and I, like the rest of the audience, left with a vivid account of experience of the 1st Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles (RUR) and 8th Kings Royal Irish Hussars in the Korean War....

The RUR were the spearhead battalion of the British 29th Brigade, Britain’s strategic reserve which was committed to the Korean campaign. Composed 50/50 of Catholics and Protestant, its soldiers were tough and experienced fighters, proud and quick with their fists....

Though he has interviewed many Irish veterans and clearly loves the men, ethos and memory of the RUR and Irish Hussars, he eschews the notion that he is an expert on Irish involvement. Still, I am deeply grateful for all that he has done to shed some light on this little known dimension of Irish Korean relations. You can check out his website here

To the Last Round | The Official Website of the Book by Andrew Salmon

Today, the RUR lives on as the Royal Irish Rangers.

Have a good weekend,
Best wishes,
Eamonn McKee
Irish Ambassador to Seoul


The Seoul Times
No surprise that the Paddies were thrown in first, were the Ghurkhas busy in some part of the empire keeping the natives down at the time?

Why is an Irish state rep bigging up a militia from the 6 counties?
 

Jezza

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Aug 8, 2010
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1,766
I am reading an American account of the Korean War wich is very good, but it makes no mention of the British involvement at all, which seems a considerable ommission.

Not saying 'we won it for them', but Britian certainly played a role. The Gloucester Regiment (now amalgamated) were accorded the honour of wearing a second cap badge on the back in recognition of having defended two fronts simoulatiously during the conflict.

Re- the RIR, I have heard tales of tension between them and other local Police, Army etc on account of the comparatively non-sectarian culture.
 

shutuplaura

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Joined
Nov 1, 2008
Messages
2,043
Thanks for the info

- but my point is that the Irish Ambassador is praising the military actions of another State in Korea at a time when this State was Neutral!

Bizarre and inappropriate surely?

Any Ambassador representing the Irish State should not meddle in the internal affairs or history of the State he has been posted to IMO
I don't think its a big deal to be honest.

I think myself the disaster that was Vietnam following so quickly on its heels is the main reason that Korea was left to the back pages of the history books.
That played a part but there is more to it that that. Britain wasn't involved in Vietnam. I think it was the inconclusive nature of the war. The UN preserved South Korean independence but didn't really defeat the North or the Chinese.
 

yobosayo

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May 8, 2010
Messages
3,357
I am reading an American account of the Korean War wich is very good, but it makes no mention of the British involvement at all, which seems a considerable ommission.

Not saying 'we won it for them', but Britian certainly played a role. The Gloucester Regiment (now amalgamated) were accorded the honour of wearing a second cap badge on the back in recognition of having defended two fronts simoulatiously during the conflict.

Re- the RIR, I have heard tales of tension between them and other local Police, Army etc on account of the comparatively non-sectarian culture.
Here:

Number of non-American troops from other UN member states sent to aid South Korea: about 40,000
Number of British Commonwealth troops sent to aid South Korea: about 20,000
Number of American troops sent to aid South Korea: 5,720,000

So, not to mock the contribution of some, but there's a reason why the book fails to mention some others, i.e., leaving aside the ROK armed forces, US forces were 99% of the rest. That's why that crap about the war being some victory for the notion of "collective security" is just that, crap (since it is hard to call it "collective security" when the ROK and US armed forces provided very nearly 100% of the armed forces fighting the war).

For the one soul, talk with your grand uncle while you have the chance. He may have known one or more these folks:

THE IRISH IN KOREA: Irish Men and Women Who Gave Their Lives in the Korean War

And next time you're near a cemetery, have a look through, and if you find anyone who is said to have died while fighting in the US armed forces in Korea, you can so inform the webmaster of that site (though the site does not appear to have been updated since 2008).

Lastly, and by the way, some of our French friends still wear this on their uniforms (as part of the unit insignia):



And rumor has it that when they're really drunk, on some good French champagne, they break out into rousing shouts of "Second to None".

Some of our Dutch friends do the same, as both they and the French were attached to the US Army's 2nd Infantry Division (the Indianhead division, whose motto is, Second to None).

Lastly, for your continuing edification:

The Battle of the Twin Tunnels, Korea, 1 February 1951 - Ted C. Chilcote - Google Books

Twin Tunnels - 1994

Battle of Chipyong-ni - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

First and Second Battles of Wonju - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

And for why the army still gives instruction in use of the bayonet:

Under a heavy snowstorm and with no air support, the battle for Hill 247 continued for most of January 10, and the fighting around the French Battalion of the 23rd Infantry Regiment became particularly fierce. At one point, the French Battalion was forced to fend off several North Korean counterattacks with bayonet charges after running out of ammunition. The French Battalion's action at Wonju impressed Ridgway, who later encouraged all American units in Korea to utilize bayonets in battle.
 

Honecker

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The UN instantly lost it's credibility when the security council voted in intervene in a Korean Civil War. The vote was extra controversial as the USSR was boycotting the UN at the time, China's vote was granted to the nationalists in Taiwan while non-permanent members on the council included US puppets like Batista's Cuba and Ecuador.
 
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timhorgan

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Jun 27, 2010
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Eamon McKee, the Irish Ambassador to South Korea is, to say the least, ignorant of Irish history. There can never be parity between Irishmen and women serving with the Irish Defence Forces and those serving with foreign armies. McKee seems to have spent too much time mixing with the Ferrero Rocher school of diplomats. Perhaps he should read what the Irish Dept. of Defence wrote in regard to British war memorials in Irish Army barracks. The forces he speaks of are British, not Irish.

Question must be-
Do we need an embassy in Korea and if so, is McKee the right person for the job?


In considering any monument or event commemorating the Great War, the department wishes to ensure that due regard be had to the separate traditions of the Defence Forces and membership by Irish people of the British armed forces.

“The dedication of memorials in Defence Forces barracks and churches to personnel and units of the British services could give rise to confusion in relation to the separate traditions.

“As a general principle therefore, it is not intended that any further memorials be erected on Defence Forces properties relating to military service other than with Óglaigh na héireann.
McKee also states-
Today, the RUR lives on as the Royal Irish Rangers.
Today, the anti-Irish and murderous UDR/B Specials also live on as the Royal Irish Rangers.
 
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Carlos Danger

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I'm disgusted that neither of our two most famous "Irish" Korean War veterans were mentioned in the letter.

Corporal Eugene O'Reilly


Major Margaret Houlihan


I mean, if the Irish ambassador to Korea is so intent on claiming British army regiments, why not go ahead and plant the tricolour on top of Inchon?

Dafuq is he at?
 

timhorgan

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I'm disgusted that neither of our two most famous "Irish" Korean War veterans were mentioned in the letter.

I mean, if the Irish ambassador to Korea is so intent on claiming British army regiments, why not go ahead and plant the tricolour on top of Inchon?

Dafuq is he at?
Here is a British MOD paper on Subversion in the UDR - McKee must be really ignorant.

Subversion in the UDR - British Army Killings
 

Ex celt

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Great to see the "fighting irish"getting deserved recognition. The ambassador will hopefully get a gong for that.
Faugh a ballagh if you please.
 

Catalpast

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Great to see the "fighting irish"getting deserved recognition. The ambassador will hopefully get a gong for that.
Faugh a ballagh if you please.

Why - they were not soldiers of the Irish Army

They were soldiers of the British Army

- a foreign Army

This State was Neutral

The Ambassador seems to be unaware of this

- or that we were not members of the UN at the time

Under which banner the US led armies fought
 

sgtharper

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I am reading an American account of the Korean War wich is very good, but it makes no mention of the British involvement at all, which seems a considerable ommission.
Par for the course I'm afraid but in fairness the US contribution was vast and they don't acknoledge the presence of the Turks, French or Belgians either.
Not saying 'we won it for them', but Britian certainly played a role. The Gloucester Regiment (now amalgamated) were accorded the honour of wearing a second cap badge on the back in recognition of having defended two fronts simoulatiously during the conflict.
Sorry Jezza, but that honour was awarded for an incident at the Battle of Alexandria in 1801 and against the French, as usual:

At 3:30 a.m. the French attacked and drove in the outposts. The brunt of the attack fell upon Moore's command, and in particular upon the 28th Foot. The British repulsed the first shock but a French column penetrated in the dark between two British regiments. A confused fight ensued in the ruins, in which the 42nd Black Watch captured a colour. The front and rear ranks of the 28th were simultaneously engaged, whereby the soldiers received the order "Front rank stay as you are, rear rank about turn" and the conduct of the regiment won for it the distinction of wearing badges both at the front and at the back of their head-dress.
Re- the RIR, I have heard tales of tension between them and other local Police, Army etc on account of the comparatively non-sectarian culture.
You've heard wrong, I had several friends in 2 Royal Irish, "one of each" in fact, and I was posted to the same garrison for a while back in the late 70's. There were no obvious tensions and certainly none related to any "non-sectarian culture" within the regiment. To be honest, I find it a very odd idea, especially as regards the Police?
On the Korea thing thing though, there was a veteran Company Sergeant attached to the Regular Cadre at Griffith Barracks in the early 70's who had served with the RUR in Korea, he wore the UN Korea Medal alongside the Congo and Cyprus ones, (though not the British Korea Medal to which he was also entitled ).He shook my hand and wished me good luck when I left to join the BA and said he'd be doing the same if he had his time over again.
:D
 

Angler

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I had a conversation with a local Korean War American Veteran , he recounted being under attack from Communist Aircraft while serving as Anti Aircraft Crew . The poor man became more and more distressed as he remembered the experience . Thankfully , his wife intervened before he completely " lost it " . His , is the real face of War .
 

Ex celt

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Why - they were not soldiers of the Irish Army

They were soldiers of the British Army

- a foreign Army

This State was Neutral

The Ambassador seems to be unaware of this

- or that we were not members of the UN at the time

Under which banner the US led armies fought
Foreign to some but not to all.
I fancy him for a CBE to be honest.
 

sgtharper

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Today, the anti-Irish and murderous UDR/B Specials also live on as the Royal Irish Rangers.
Good old Tim, firm grasp of the wrong end of the stick as usual! :lol:
The Royal Irish Rangers no longer exist as a regular Infantry regiment, they were amalgamated into the Royal Irish Regiment along with the UDR. For a short time it was the largest infantry regiment in the British Army but the Home Service battalions (the old UDR) were soon disbanded leaving only the two regular ones which had been 1 & 2 R.I.Rangers prior to amalgamation. I don't belive there were many transfers to regular service from the ranks of the UDR. I doubt that there are any ex-UDR soldiers serving in the remainin battalion, and certainly no former "B Men", all of whom would be in their late 60's at least by now. To all intents in purposes 1st Bn. Royal Irish Regiment is really just the amalgamated and reduced Royal Irish Rangers. 2 Royal Irish is a TA battalion nowadays.

Carry on dreaming and getting stuff wrong though by all means! petunia
 
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sgtharper

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The UN instantly lost it's credibility when the security council voted in intervene in a Korean Civil War. The vote was extra controversial as the USSR was boycotting the UN at the time, China's vote was granted to the nationalists in Taiwan while non-permanent members on the council included US puppets like Batista's Cuba and Ecuador.
Well that was a fortunate turn of events I suppose, at least it saved South Korea and its people from being under the control of the total Loonocracy that is North Korea, a good thing surely?
 
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