Few of us have anything but a hazy notion of the vicious conflict that split the Korean peninsula in the Fifties
Korean War was a bloodbath in which 40,000 American troops, 500,000 North Korean and Chinese soldiers and at least 2.5 million civilians all died.Corporal Jim Lucock was, in his own words, ‘just an ordinary national serviceman who didn’t want to die’.
But warfare doesn’t pay much attention to how desperately a man wants to stay alive, and one day Jim and his mates were ordered to enter and destroy a maze of tunnels dug by enemy troops.
As with so many missions facing British soldiers in the godforsaken war they were fighting, the odds were stacked against them. Jim recalled how, as the unit moved gingerly forward in the dark, ‘this lad in front said, “Hey Corp, I think I’ve stood on a mine”, but somebody called out, “It’s not a bloody mine, stop acting the goat”. So he took his foot off and it went up.
‘He was killed instantly. So was the lad behind me. I was hit and lay unconscious for a couple of hours with 36 pieces of shrapnel in me. I still have some in my left leg.’
Here is a general knowledge quiz: a) During the Cold War, where did British soldiers battle the enemy head on for three years? b) Where did more of our troops die than in the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan put together? c) Where were our prisoners-of-war tortured and brainwashed? d) Where did World War III nearly break out? e) Where, more than 60 years on, is there, astonishingly, still no peace agreement between the warring sides?
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WE WILL REMEMBER THEM