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Korean War – A History of Firsts

As part of the United Nation (UN) forces committed to the aid of South Korea in 1950, Australian forces lost 339 servicemen killed and 1200 wounded in three years of conflict.  The sacrifice our servicemen make is as significant today as it was then and the Kenmore-Moggill RSL sub-branch extends its condolences to the family of Sgt Brett Wood, the 24th Australian killed in action serving in Afghanistan.

Australian forces were committed from the outset of the Korean War and a number of significant “firsts” involved each of the three services.

No. 77 Squadron, RAAF was the first UN unit to see action when it was committed as part of the United Nations forces, and flew its first ground attack sorties on 2 July 1950 in support of South Korean troops hard pressed by the North Koreans.

The first exchange for the Navy involving an RAN ship occurred on 1 August 1950 when Bataan was attacked by shore batteries whilst patrolling near the Haeju Gulf, northwest Inchon. Battan returned fire and silenced four of the enemy guns. The Royal Navy (RN) cruiser HMS Belfast soon joined Bataan and both ships engaged the enemy. Bataan was straddled by enemy fire on a number of occasions during the duel.

Meanwhile, the Army had a rather unique first when Reg Saunders, the first Aboriginal commissioned officer in the Australian Army, served as a company commander with the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment.  3 RAR was awarded the US Presidential Unit Citation for its conduct in the Battle of Kapyong, fought on, and in the days preceding ANZAC Day 1951.

Each year on the anniversary date of the armistice ending this conflict, Korean Veterans day is commemorated at services across the nation.  On Wednesday 27th July take a moment to remember Korea and all Veterans who continue to serve our Nation.

“Lest We Forget”

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