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Thread: The Fighting Irish of the Korean War

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    Politics.ie Member Catalpast's Avatar
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    Default The Fighting Irish of the Korean War

    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
    If you can convince a People to engage in the mass elimination of their own offspring - you can probably get them to do anything...http://irelandinhistory.blogspot.ie/

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    Politics.ie Member shutuplaura's Avatar
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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.

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    Politics.ie Member Catalpast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shutuplaura View Post
    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
    If you can convince a People to engage in the mass elimination of their own offspring - you can probably get them to do anything...http://irelandinhistory.blogspot.ie/

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    Quote Originally Posted by shutuplaura View Post
    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.
    "If we can but prevent the government from wasting the labours of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy." - Thomas Jefferson

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    Politics.ie Member Eire1976's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Catalpast View Post
    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?

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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.

    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.

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    Politics.ie Member shutuplaura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Catalpast View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tea Party Patriot View Post
    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.

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    Politics.ie Member yobosayo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jezza View Post
    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.
    Don't confuse me with facts; my mind is already made up.

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    Politics.ie Member Honecker's Avatar
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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.
    Last edited by Honecker; 31st March 2013 at 01:15 PM.

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    Politics.ie Member timhorgan's Avatar
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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.
    Last edited by timhorgan; 31st March 2013 at 01:18 PM.
    From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free!

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