Korean War Veterans Day Ceremony
On 6 December, the Korean War Veterans Day Ceremony took place in The Hague. At the invitation of the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea, Z.E. Yun Young Lee, a delegation from the Jan Janszn Weltevree Foundation has attended this meeting. During the meeting the 'Korean Ambassador for Peace Medal' was presented to former Korean fighters, or to relatives of them.
THE FORGOTTEN WAR
When the Dutch government received the request from the UN to send troops to Korea, she was not immediately eager to make people available.
The war with Indonesia was just behind us. In the Netherlands it was the time of reconstruction. With hesitation, the government first provided an ambulance, followed by the destroyer Hr. Ms. Evertsen, who steamed up to the Korean coast in July.
After the US threatened to reduce the Marshall aid to the Netherlands if no more money was spent on Defence, the government finally agreed to send troops during the July 17 Council of Ministers. The next step was recruiting volunteers for the task that was waiting.
Prime Minister Drees, in particular, made a point of it to send volunteers instead of mandatory compulsory military units. However, the volunteers would initially be recruited within the professional army.
Only in the spring of 1952, when the registration out of the army for filling up and replacement of people wanting to go to Korea ran back and fewer men were willing to sign than expected, a national advertising campaign was started. In addition to a minimum age of 19 years and a maximum of 35 years, the government stated that a real twelve-month service had to be completed. Because there was a the flood the first application, a week later it was announced that there would be a preference for soldiers who had tropical experience. Especially soldiers of the Special Forces Corps in Indonesia would be given priority.
A total of 1,670 volunteers registered for the first batch. Of these, just over 500 remained.
On 15 October 1950 the Dutch Detachment United Nations was officially established and on October 26, 1950, the first batch of 636 people left from Rotterdam harbour by boat to Korea. This first batch arrived in Pusan in South Korea a month later and had to start immediately. It was assigned to the American 2nd Division Infantry ('Indian Heads').
Of the first batch, a total of 56 soldiers would be killed and 150 wounded, among other places during the battles near Hoengsong and hill 325 in March 1951. Among them was the commander of the detachment, lt.-col. M.P.A. den Ouden, who died on February 12, 1951.
Regularly, after the first batch, more soldiers left the Netherlands to Korea to supplement and relieve the Dutch detachment.
In total 3418 Dutch soldiers have been sent to Korea in the period 1950 to 1954. In addition, 1896 marines have also been involved in the war. The number of sick and injured under the Dutch contribution was 645. 120 Dutch soldiers were killed; 116 of them are buried at the UN war cemetery just outside of Pusan in South Korea. Three members of the Dutch Detachment are still missing.
The Forgotten War
Wedged between the Second World War and the Vietnam War, the Korea War is sometimes called 'the forgotten war'. Completely unjustified by the way. Not only was 'Korea' the first armed conflict of the Cold War, it was also a bloody page in Dutch military history. 123 Dutch soldiers lost their lives in battle.
When returning to the Netherlands, with the exception of the immediate family, there was hardly a warm reception for the soldiers. It was as if one had quickly forgotten what the young soldiers had experienced in that distant country and what some would wear as a mental ballast throughout their lives.
It was one of the reasons that in 1977 General N. Tack and Colonel L.C. Schreuders established the Association Old Korea Warriors. Both had been in Korea and knew that there was a need for camaraderie and understanding. Now, years later, the recognition in the Netherlands for their heroic deeds has started slowly.