British & Irish flags at new Korean War Memorial for Ulster troops

Royal Irish Regiment, Royal Ulster Rifles Association, Royal British Legion and The Irish Association of Korea working in cooperation with the Irish Embassy and the Somme Association were in South Korea recently to unveil a new memorial to Irish Veterans (largely from the British Army but also US & Commonwealth forces) of the 1951 Korean War.

The Irish Embassy website has a good article on current attempts to catalog all troops of Irish descent involved.

The Korean Times carries a detailed account of how the Royal Ulster Rifles, King`s 8th Royal Irish Hussars (Tanks) & the Royal Artillery were the last troops to withdraw giving others the time to evacuate and how US aircraft mistakenly gave away their withdrawal by letting off flares resulting in the Battle of `Happy Valley`.  The article mentions tat the Irish Tri-Colour was flown by those commemorating. The royal Irish Regiment Piper played `The Piper`s Lament`.

A new memorial in Seoul was dedicated during a remembrance service . The old memorial was moved to Army Barracks in Northern Ireland after locals dismantled the base for building materials.  It is now situated outside Belfast City Hall.

The new memorial reads:

Men from all over Britain and Ireland, from every community, fought with the Royal Ulster Rifles in Korea. The regiment sacrificed many to the Korean War with the most significant losses suffered at the Battle of ‘Happy Valley’ in defence of Seoul, capital of South Korea, on the night of 3-4 January 1951. The VIII Kings Royal Irish Hussars and the Royal Artillery in support of the RUR also sustained casualties.

This monument recalls the original Memorial Pillar in Happy Valley which was carved by a Korean mason during the succeeding battles before being erected on 3 July 1951 overlooking the battlefield. The original memorial was moved in 1962 to Northern Ireland and now stands in the grounds of the City Hall in Belfast.

The Wall Street Journal has a slightly wider take on events taking in British & Commonwealth troops.

In 2003 the United States Congress recognised the sacrifice of Irish men in the US forces by awarding posthumous citizenship to 29 Irish killed in the Korean war and an Irish Korean War Memorial was erected in New York  in 2006.

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