Korean War: Wreaths laid in Belfast to mark 70 years since armistice

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Wreaths have been laid in the grounds of Belfast City Hall to mark 70 years since the Korean War armistice.

Wreaths have been laid in the grounds of Belfast City Hall to mark 70 years since the Korean War armistice.

Northern Ireland veterans were in attendance, as well as members of the Korean community in Northern Ireland.

Albert Morrow, who served in the war, described his experience as "absolutely horrendous" and something that he will never forget.

Events were held across the UK and in South Korea on Thursday to remember the conflict.

L/Cpl Morrow, who drove his battalion's ambulance, was in attendance at Belfast City Hall, and recounted his service.

"To be quite honest, when you think of what happened, of our comrades who were killed wounded and taken prisoner of war, you know, you can never forget it," he said.

He added that he thinks of these fellow soldiers "all the time".

L/Cpl Morrow said one particular moment from the conflict sticks in his mind.

"All hell broke loose. I just got away and no more, and the medical officer and the driver in his Jeep were about four vehicles behind and they were trapped, they were taken prisoners of war."

"I just got out by the skin of my teeth," he said.

Millions of casualties

In June 1950, with the support of China and the Soviet Union, North Korea launched an attack on South Korea across the 38th parallel.

South Korea was supported by the United States and allied countries.

  • Irish veterans of Korean War recall conflict

After three years of war, in July 1953, an armistice was signed by the two sides at Panmunjom which left Korea divided as it had been in 1950.

Estimates vary, but at least two million Korean civilians, up to 1.5m communist forces, and around 30,000 US, 400,000 South Korean and 1,000 UK troops are believed to have died.

Capt Basil Singleton, who served as a lance bombardier in Korea, was also at the wreath laying in Belfast.

He said he served in the Army for three and a half years, having joined up after leaving school.

"I was born and brought up in the north-west, and when we left school there was no work.

"There was a scheme here in which we could join join as short service regulars," he said.

Capt Singleton said he did not generally like to talk about his time in Korea but noted: "It was a bit rough, including the weather."

He added that attending events offers an opportunity to remember.

"We're thinking of our comrades who we lost and didn't come back home," he said.

Korean community attendance

Members of the Korean community in Northern Ireland turned up to express their thanks to the veterans.

Sang-Sub Hyon, leader of the Korean Society in Northern Ireland, said witnessing the war in Ukraine had increased his gratitude for those who served in Korea.

"I would like to say thank you to the veterans," he said.

"Especially witnessing the Russian-Ukrainian war, I appreciate the sacrifice of the war veterans from 16 countries."

"Because of their sacrifice Korea can keep its freedom, enabling today's republic."