Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Korean War memorial dedication

A lorry full of British troops moves toward a front-line in South Korea. A memorial to Northern Irish troops who served in the conflict has been dedicated in Belfast

A Northern Ireland memorial to soldiers killed or wounded during the Korean War has been dedicated in Belfast.

Veterans from the 1950 conflict paraded by the new site at Belfast city hall.

Generals from England and the South Korean ambassador to Britain Choo Kyu-Hoo were present.

The monument to the Happy Valley battle near Seoul was originally in Korea but moved to an army base at Ballymena, Co Antrim. The army's decision to sell the land prompted the latest move. A total of 208 soldiers died or were injured.

Veteran Basil Singleton said: "It was a very bloody war with extreme temperatures, the River Han was frozen solid in the middle of winter."

Former Church of Ireland Primate Lord Robin Eames and Catholic priest Fr Colin Grant from Belfast performed the re-dedication.

The 1st Battalion of the Royal Ulster Rifles was the first unit from England to join the UN force in Korea when they landed at Pusan in November 1950. In their first major action on January 3 1951, the Rifles covered the withdrawal of UN forces to the south of the Han River.

When the time came for the Rifles to withdraw the Chinese were already behind them and they had to fight their way out. The action is formally known as the Battle of Chaegunghyon but is better known to soldiers as the Happy Valley Battle.

Afterwards the Rifles were awarded two distinguished service orders, two military crosses and two military medals. Three men were mentioned in despatches.

As well as the Rifles the memorial also marks the service of the 45th Field Regiment, 170 Mortar Battery and 8th Kings Royal Irish Hussars.

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