Cold, mines, mates gone: a war they can't forget

Picture: Geoff Jones

Picture: Geoff Jones

SIXTY-ONE years since the ceasefire of the so-called "forgotten" Korean war, the Sun spoke to five veterans about their memories of the conflict.

July 27 marked 61 years since the armistice of the bloody Cold War battle, which ended fighting in 1953 and claimed more than 340 Australian souls, with the remains of 44 still missing, as well as 47,000 South Koreans, 36,574 Americans, 1109 British and 33 New Zealanders, among many more.

Communist forces lost 140,000 North Korean fighters and 183,108 from China.

The date is now marked as the Korean War Veterans' Day.

"I got to Korea early March 1952," recalled Rick Cooper, 86, of Blacktown.

"It was cold, sometimes it was minus 35, and we lived like animals in little holes called hutchies, a Japanese word for house. I don't know how we managed.

"My company were in Operation Blaze. We were the only Australian force over there to do a daylight attack on a feature, somewhere above the 38th parallel . . . we lost half the company.

"Unfortunately, the Chinese knew about our way out, they'd pinpointed our escape route. That's how we lost our blokes."

For Blacktown RSL Sub-branch president Bruce Scott, who also lost mates in battle, the pain is still palpable.

"They say it was a police action, but it was still a bloody war," Mr Scott said. "They had a mine called the jumping jack: it used to jump up when it got trodden on, to kill more people.

"We should remember people, the Australian lives lost there."

A peace treaty has never been signed between the two Koreas and the demilitarised zone between them is heavily guarded from both sides.


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