© Hendrik Meersschaert, 2002 - 2017
THE BELGIAN FORCES IN THE KOREAN WAR (BUNC)
Following the attack by communist forces against the Republic of Korea on 25 June 1950 and acting on the UN Security Councel Resolution calling on members of the UN to aid the South-Korean government, the Belgian government decided to send an expeditionary force to Korea. Professional soldiers but also reserve personnel and indeed even conscripts could volunteer for the unit. The first appeal for volunteers was answered by about 2,000 of which 700 only were selected due to limited recruiting possibilities at the time and they received their distinctive brown berets. Training and preparation done, the Belgian United Nations Command (BUNC), including a platoon of volunteers from the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, sailed from Antwerp on board the KAMINA and arrived in Pusan on 31 January 1951.
Further training followed and after running patrols against guerilla forces in the Waegwan area, the BUNC was put in the line near Seoul along the Han River on 7 March 1951 under the command of the US 3rd Division.
In April 1951, the BUNC fought with distinction along the Imjin River where it received its first battle honours. In August, those volunteers that did not seek to prolong their tour of service were relieved by a new contingent arriving from Belgium. A continuous trickle of new volunteers arriving by ship or plane would then see to keeping the unit up to strength.
The BUNC continued to see lots of combat action and went on to earn further battle honours at Haktang-Ni (October 1951) and Chatkol (April 1953). After the cease-fire the BUNC was reduced to some 200 men on 30 December 1954 and the last members of the unit left Korea on 15 June 1955.
It is not within the scope of this medal-oriented website to tell the complete story of the BUNC in detail but I do wish to render hommage to those that served by making available information on the battle honours, some citations, and a list of those that did not return to their homes and families ...
Short historical overview
During the Korean Conflict, the BUNC received four Belgian citations which were recognized by the award of the fourragère of the Order of Leopold I on the unit's flag. A United States Presidential Unit Citation as well as two Korean Presidential Unit Citations were also earned as were a number of individual decorations, medals and citations. The Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg also bestowed an award on the unit.
The four Belgian citations are for the battles on the Imjin River, near Haktang-Ni and Chatkol and a general citation for the whole of the war. Click on the appropriate name for more detailed information.
Battle honours and the battles that lead to them
Some further information can be found on the links below :
Thanks to the late Mr. Joseph Vos, veteran of the Korean War, for his help in providing information that enabled these pages to be made. Also worth a visit : The Belgian Battalion in Korea 1950-1955 , website by Jan Dillen, a Korea veteran whom I wish to thank deeply for his unwavering willingness to answer my many questions.
Extensive use was made of the book "De Belgen in Korea 1951-1955" by the late Lt.-Gen. Albert Crahay, first C.O. of the BUNC. Almost all period pictures on these pages stem from those taken by the BUNC's padre at the time and were found on the CD-Rom "The Forgotten War - Korea", published by the Centre for Didactical Production of the Army.
Medal group of J. Vos