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The Korean War

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Year 11 Australian Studies: The Korean War By Adam Rau Introduction After the end of the Second World War, communities were still coming to terms with the devastation which that conflict had caused, and the millions it had killed. Yet only five years after the end of this war, another was to break out, and again Australia would commit its forces. It was the Korean War. Korea was a place that few Australians knew much about, until 1950. From 1950-53, 17,000 Australians in the Army, Navy and Air Force fought as part of the United Nations force, defending South Korea from the Communist force of North Korea. After the war ended, Australians remained in Korea for four years as military observers. Since then, Australia has maintained a presence. Australia's involvement in the Korean War won much praise from other nations. Awards and decorations given to Australians during the war totalled 615, while awards given to Australians by other countries numbered 173. Australia also gained many political and security benefits, the most important being the signing of the ANZUS Treaty with the United States and New Zealand. ANZUS joined the nations of Australia, New Zealand and the United States in a defence security pact for the Pacific region. Representatives of the governments of the three nations signed the agreement in Canberra on 1 September 1951 From Australia and New Zealand's point of view at the time, ANZUS offered a protection against a possible future threat of Soviet or Chinese aggression. ...read more.


The United Nations and the outbreak of war The United Nations was created in 1945 in an attempt to secure world peace. After the devastation of two world wars, the major powers sought to prevent the outbreak of conflict by a system of mutual guarantees between groups of nations. Australia was one of the founders and played a leading role on behalf of the smaller member nations. Through its UN membership, Australia aimed to raise its profile in world affairs. In November 1947, the UN Temporary Commission on Korea (UNTCOK) was created to supervise government elections in both North and South Korea, with a view to developing a single national government. The commission soon found that the communist administration in the north would not allow it to operate there. A new permanent UN Commission on Korea (UNCOK) was then established to help Korea move towards unification, as well as to observe the activities of military forces on the peninsula. Australia was a member of both commissions. Australia's Minister for External Affairs, Dr H.V. "Doc" Evatt, urged the United States to maintain its forces in South Korea, to ensure stability in the region. However, the United States wanted to reduce its overseas commitments outside of Europe, and by the end of 1949, there were only 500 American troops left in Korea. During 1949, the war of words between the two Koreas escalated, and infiltration and clashes along the border increased. ...read more.


Men volunteered out of patriotism, to fight communism, out of pressure, or for the opportunities to travel overseas and experience a bit of adventure along the way. The War Australia was involved in Korea from 1950 until 1957 as part of the United Nations Command forces. Australia's allies in this operation were the United States, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Ethiopia, France, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, and Turkey. India, the Scandinavian countries and Italy provided medical units. The Australian Army was represented in Korea by the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR), which arrived in Pusan on the 27th of September 1950. It had been stationed in Japan, as part of the British Commonwealth Occupying Force (BCOF) since 1946; at the time of the outbreak of hostilities in Korea, it severely lacked numbers. 3 RAR was soon boosted by 39 officers and 971 men, doubling its numbers. The 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1 RAR) and the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (2 RAR) also joined the war later, each on a one-year tour of duty. The Australians were part of a larger Commonwealth force, eventually renamed the 28th Commonwealth Brigade. In July 1951, this Brigade joined the 25th Canadian and the 29th British Brigades to become the 1st Commonwealth Division. Australian forces in Korea were made up of both Second World War veterans and fresh volunteers. Naturally, there was some initial rivalry between the two groups, but as time went by, the experience of Korea formed them into one unified service. ...read more.

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