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1950: British troops arrive in Korea

A British force of about 4,000 infantry has arrived in Korea from Hong Kong.

The decision to send the troops, as back up for the American-led United Nations force, was taken suddenly a week ago. Until now, the only British support has been from warships in the area and some local air squadrons.

The British force includes the 1st Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and 1st Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment.

American troops have been in the region since the beginning of July and there has been deep concern in Britain that it has taken so long to send support.

Infantry reinforcements

At the end of July, the Minister of Defence, Emmanuel Shinwell, announced a self-contained expeditionary force, including armour, artillery and engineers, as well as infantry, would be sent to Korea.

But he said ground forces would not be withdrawn from Malaya or Hong Kong to make up the force.

However, it appears following an urgent request from General Douglas MacArthur last week for infantry reinforcements, there was a change of plan in Whitehall.

The self-contained force - including a centurion tank - is still being sent to Korea but is not expected to arrive for another couple of weeks.

Opposition leader Winston Churchill intends to raise the matter when Parliament next meets on 12 September.

The British contingent has arrived at a moment when the United Nations line is under heavy pressure on its northern front and the port of Pohang on the east coast is threatened by Communist encirclement.

Reports from Korea say Communist forces have also moved inland to capture Kigye.

If they are successful, the Communists are expected to turn their attentions next to Taegu, the main centre of allied communications.

In Context
Parliament was recalled on 12 September when the Government announced it was increasing its expenditure on defence and extending the period of national service from 18 months to two years due in part to the demands of the war in Korea.

Two million people died during the Korean war, which ended with an armistice signed on 27 July 1953.

Of the 63,000 UK troops sent to Korea - many National Service conscripts - 1,078 died and more than 1,000 were taken prisoner.

Many were mistreated and subjected to "political re-education". Some 82 prisoners never returned home and are presumed dead.

North and South Korea were eventually separated by a demarcation line which was extended by a 2km (1.5 miles) demilitarised zone on either side.

A peace deal has never been reached. American troops remain stationed in the de-militarized zone on and around the 38th parallel separating North and South Korea.


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