2011 marks the 60th anniversary of the greatest offensive of the Korean War. In 2001 Andrew Salmon, a Seoul-based reporter, met survivors when they returned to the battleground for the 50th anniversary. Gripped by their stories, wanting to learn more, he was astounded to discover that no full account of their battle had ever been published.
Consequently he published his first Korean War battlefield history ‘To the Last Round’ in 2009 which dealt with the epic stand by the British Forces on the Imjin River in 1951 and also highlighted the significant role played by the Royal Ulster Rifles in the campaign. A follow up book ‘Scorched Earth, Black Snow’ has recently been published which is based upon the testimonies of 90 veterans of the war. It tells of their experiences and memories of one of the most brutal post-WW2 conflicts. Aspects from these important books about this ‘Forgotten War’ will feature in his talk.
His presentation included paintings and photographs never published in the UK and covered, amongst other things, the origins and early days of the Korean War; the defence of the South and the counter-invasion of the North; the shock Chinese offensive; the terrible winter retreat from Pyongyang; the strategy and tactics of both sides; the rearguard action from ‘Happy Valley’ at the cost of the decimation of the Royal Ulster Rifles and the King’s 8th Royal Irish Hussars; the tragedy of Hill 282; the fight for survival of the 27th Brigade and the roles of the British and Australian forces in this first United Nations war.
During the presentation the experiences of the Korean people were not overlooked as the presenter addressed the issue of atrocities and illuminated several near-fantastical events including the extraordinary night encounter at Sariwon, ‘Hellfire Valley’, the ‘Cliffhanger at Funchilin Pass’ and the ‘Ship of Miracles’.
1 Andrew Salmon covers the Koreas for Forbes, Monocle, The South China Morning Post, The Times and The Washington Times. His first Korean War history, To the Last Round: The Epic British Stand on the Imjin River, Korea, 1951 won the inaugural Osprey Publishing/Hampshire Libraries award for “Best Military Book of 2009.” In 2010, Andrew was presented with a “Korea Wave” award at South Korea’s National Assembly for his contribution to the literature of the war; also that year, the book was named one of the Top 10 books on Korea by the Wall St Journal.
2 Though almost entirely unknown in the UK, the Korean War consumed more British lives than the Falklands, Iraq and Afghan conflicts combined; established China – the erstwhile “Sick Man of Asia” – as a superpower; and even today, holds the potential to reignite and unleash a nuclear catastrophe across East Asia.
3 Further information about the presentation can be obtained from the Somme Heritage Centre – 02891823202