IMJIN RIVER: BATTLEFIELD TOUR

October 30, 2013

Imjin River was one of the critical battles of the Korean War, and perhaps the most tragic. It was also one where two Irish units – the Royal Ulster Rifles and the Irish Hussars – proved their worth in the sternest test of war – a battle against overwhelming odds.

Andrew Salmon, who recently presented to the IAK and guided re-visiting veterans around the “Happy Valley” battlefield during the summer, will lead this IAK organised tour, which will take in the full valley where the RUR fought, stop at their final “backstop” position, and recount the stories of the men who survived. If you have seen him talk or read his books, you’ll know that this will be an unmissable chance to learn more about the war and these battles.

 

The tour takes place on Sat Nov 9th starting at 8.50 am and starts from Korean War Memorial in Yongsan where we will meet on the main steps. Andrew will give us an overview of the war, and some of the weapons and equipment used. Then via coach we will head to Jeokseong, site of the Imjin River battle where Andrew will guide us. Lunch is included in the price of the trip (20,000 krw payment on the day of the tour itself). We shall return to Seoul around 6pm (depending on traffic).

 

To book a place on the tour email irishassociationkorea@gmail.com irishassociationkorea@gmail.com with your name and phone number.

 

Some walking will be involved, so wear sports/hiking shoes. All the 1951 brigade positions remain ROK echelon positions south of the DMZ to this day, so please wear subdued, rather than bright clothing.

 

On the night of 22nd April 1951, the greatest offensive of the Korean War – indeed, the biggest communist assault to be launched since the fall of Berlin – was unleashed. A third of a million Chinese and North Korean troops surged south in a “human wave” designed to annihilate the bulk of the UN Command and take Seoul by May Day.

 

At the epi-center of this onslaught, holding the line of the Imjin River directly north of Seoul, stood the UK’s 29th Infantry Brigade. In the thick of the fighting were the brigade’s Irish units – 1st Royal Ulster Rifles and 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars. For three nights, 29th Brigade held against 7-1 odds, but at tremendous cost: A quarter of its strength became casualties, and an entire battalion, “The Glorious Glosters,” was wiped out as the UN line fell back.

 

The roles of all 29th Brigade units will be addressed, but with special focus on the Irish units. We will gaze over the river where the Ulster Rifles’ quick reaction force drove into oblivion; halt where the Irish Hussars made a hopeless effort to break through to the surrounded Glosters; drive up the valley which the Ulsters held against the Chinese; and stand on the backstop position held by the Irish soldiers in the battle’s desperate final hour.

 

Any member who wishes to lay a wreath may do so at the trenches at the brigade “backstop” position – held by the Ulster’s B Company in the face of swarming enemy – or at the official battle memorial at the foot of “Gloster Hill” – the site of the doomed battalion’s last stand. We suggest any messages attached to wreathes be written in both English and Korean, and placed in a sealed, clear plastic bag.You can find this event on Facebook here

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