Glorious Glosters mark 60 years since the end of the Korean War
Members of the Gloucester branch of the British Korean Veterans during their lunch to mark 60 years since the end of the conflict
DESPITE the fact that over 1,000 British soldiers were killed and more than 1,000 were taken prisoner, the Korean conflict of the 1950s is still often regarded as the 'forgotten war'.
On July 27 this year Korean veterans around the world will mark 60 years since the end of the conflict, the first military action of the Cold War.
Last week the Gloucester branch of the British Korean Veterans gathered to mark the anniversary at a lunch at the Whitminster Inn.
Troops from the 'Glorious Glosters', fighting for United Nations forces, played a key role in battles against the Chinese - including the ferocious battle of Imjin River in April 1951.
Branch chairman Denis Grogan, 82, was just 21 when he found himself serving as a corporal in the RAF during the conflict.
"The biggest challenge we faced wasn't the Koreans, or even the Chinese, it was the cold. Some nights it reached temperatures of minus 40 degrees Celsius," said Mr Grogan.
"On these nights we still had to sleep in tents with no sleeping bags."
War broke out in Korea on June 25 1950 - just five years after the end of the Second World War. The conflict between the communist North aided by the Chinese, and the republican South aided by America and the United Nations, lasted three years.
Hundreds of soldiers were taken prisoner and of these 34 died in captivity but the others remained in POW camps for more than two years until after the armistice was signed in 1953.
Tom Clough, 81, who served as lance bombardier, and Ben Whitchurch, 81, who served as a private in the Glosters, both celebrated their 21st birthday in Chocksung, a Korean prison camp.
Mr Clough joined the Army at the age of 14 and later served as a gunner with the Royal Artillery in Korea.
"After being taken prisoner I was made to march 600 miles to Chocksung where I remained for two and a half years," he said.
"I guess I was one of the lucky ones because a lot of men died at that camp."
The Glosters were awarded with the Presidential Unit Citation - the highest American military honour a non-American can receive.