Chelsea Pensioners Awarded South Korean Peace Medals
15 Chelsea Pensioners were awarded two Peace Medals from the Korean Defence Attaché in recognition for their service in the Korean War in the 1950s.
The medals represented thanks and gratitude not only from the South Korean military but also from the people of South Korea. The conflict lasted three years and almost 100,000 British Troops fought in the war.
The Chelsea Pensioners were awarded the Peace Medals by the Defence Attaché Capt Ji from the Korean Charity of Korean War Veteran’s Affairs. Two medals were handed out to each pensioner along with a special baseball cap.
The Governor of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, Sir Redmond Watt was also in attendance. Standing before the delegation and the 15 Pensioners, he honoured the work of the South Korean charity, saying: “What a great pleasure and honour it is to welcome you to the Royal Hospital today. You do us a great honour and a great service and demonstrate that this conflict was not, and will not be forgotten.”
South Korean Veteran Chelsea Pensioner Gerry Farmer said: “It was a lovely afternoon and it was wonderful to receive the medals. Korean people are lovely, they shake hands and they also bow. I like the way they bow I think we should do that too! In 1981 I was invited over to South Korea to receive a Peace Medal; I was one of the first ones they invited over, because I saved a man’s life. It is always a pleasure to meet with people from South Korea.”
Shortly after the presentation, Capt Ji presented the Royal Hospital with a donation to the Chelsea Pensioners’ Appeal as a gesture of respect for the veterans. A reception followed, where the Chelsea Pensioners reminisced about their experiences in South Korea. The Defence Attaché and members of the South Korean delegation took a tour around the Royal Hospital Chelsea.
Chelsea Pensioner Bill Speakman who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery during the campaign in South Korea was also at the presentation, he said: “I was just a soldier doing my job; I did what I was trained to do. I love South Korea, I would live there if I could - the people are wonderful.” Bill recently visited Korea where he was awarded the ‘Order of Military Merit Taegeuk Medal’ which is their highest honour.
The Korean War is often nicknamed ‘the forgotten war’ due to the lack of public attention it received both during and after the conflict.