THE BELGIAN FORCES IN THE KOREAN WAR (BUNC)
INDIVIDUAL AWARDS AND CITATIONS
The BUNC received many individual awards and citations and it should be understood that those described below are only part of the total awarded. They are meant to illustrate the bravery and tenacity of the unit's members throughout the campaign.
Some citations and awards for the Imjin battles (April 1951)
(1) Citation of 1st Sergeant Leiding, C-company, who received the War Cross with palm (25-08-51) :
"In command of an advanced listening post, 1500 metres in front of our lines, he was encircled by the enemy at night on 23 April north of the Imjin River. Despite artillery fire he continued to signal enemy movements for several hours. When communications broke, he continued to hold his position in the enemy lines throughout the night, repulsing five enemy attacks. At dawn, he rejoined the battalion and reported back with his men to his already strongly depleted company. During his highly successful mission, he showed great calmness and leadership."
1st Sergeant Leiding also received the US Silver Star for this operation and a second palm for his War Cross as "Holder of the Silver Star".
(2) The platoon CO, Lt. Verhaegen, was found and returned to the lines by Chaplain Vandergoten and 2nd Lt. Derom who were both mentioned on the battalion's Order of the Day for their bravery. Also mentioned were four members of the Luxembourg platoon for their part in this operation :
"Sergeant Franck, Private Wennmacher, Corporal Morres and Private Morgiel, sent to reinforce the severely compressed C-company, took part in two counterattacks which lead to close combat. They occupied the furthest advanced positions and defended these till the withdrawal of C-company and its successful extrication."
(3) Citations for the Hosdain patrol, A-company : the effort to clear the bridges of enemy control stranded after crossing the first bridge (across the Imjin River). The Chinese opposition (estimated to be several hundreds of Chinese) forced the patrol to withdraw. For this action the following citations were awarded :
2nd Lt. Hosdain - "Charged with a difficult patrol south of the Imjin River, he conducted it with determination and coolness under fire from a numerous and close enemy. Deliberately maintained his position under enemy fire to enable and cover the withdrawal of his men and returned his two wounded section chiefs to our lines." The award made was the War Cross with palm (25-08-51) and he would also receive the US Bronze Star with "V" device.
On 11 August 1955, he would also receive the Military Decoration (Art. 4), 1st class for : "dedication shown while serving with the volunteer corps in Korea with the United Nations."
(Rank ?) Gilbert, section commander - "Has completed a series of missions, without pause, between 06.00 h and 18.00 h, first while patrolling with his platoon, later during the operations for the extraction of C-company and whilst covering its withdrawal. Continuously under enemy fire, he never ceased to display a perfect calmness and bravery, thereby causing heavy casualties being inflicted on the enemy."
Private Pallemans - "Whilst retreating through the Imjin River and while the river was under strong enemy fire, he assisted a comrade on the verge of being drowned and being taken towards the enemy by the river. He brought him to the river bank and helped him to reach our lines, crossing the beach that lay under enemy fire." The award made was the Military Decoration 2nd class, with palm (25-08-51).
Private Degand - "Leader of a Bren-group, he covered the withdrawal till all ammunition was depleted, all the time firing from a position on the enemy bank, close to the enemy and under well aimed enemy fire. Missing in action whilst the last of the patrol members waded through the river."
Private Degand's body was later found, executed by the Chinese, during the Allied counteroffensive in May. He was posthumously awarded the Knight class of the Order of Leopold II with palm and the War Cross with palm (12-12-51).
A further citation, believed to be posthumous, to the operation's commander, Commandant Poswick also refers to this action (see below).
(4) Citation of Lt. P.J. Janssens, C.O. C-company, on the award of the Order of Leopold II, knight class with palm and the War Cross with palm (25-08-51) :
"Commanded his company with valour and coolness. With four men of his company he executed a counterattack with bayonets to recapture an enemy position defended by a machine gun. All five were injured during this action. On the death of Lt. Beauprez he took over command of C-company and immediately had full control over it; has in all circumstances displayed a great calmness, courage and determination and especially so during the attack on Hill 191 during the night of 22-23 March. Has, during the actions of 22-23 April, repulsed more than 7 attacks on his positions and when the enemy had entered these, has lead a counterattack with some of his men, with bayonets; was injured during this action and remained in command of his company until relieved."
Lt. Janssens also received the US Silver Star for these actions.
The pictures show the award ceremony for the award of the Silver Star to Lt. Janssens and 1st Sergeant Leiding and the Bronze Star to Sergeant Van Damme, Sergeant Van Hamme and Corporal Leunis.
Sergeant Van Damme's citation for the Bronze Star (24-08-62) reads :
"For heroism on 23 April 1951 near Idong, Korea. During the night of 22 April Sergeant First Class Van Damme, as Supply Sergeant of Company C, succeeded in keeping his company furnished with critically needed ammunition. He also personally evacuated five wounded comrades to the aid station while under severe enemy automatic weapons fire. Sergeant Van Damme's example of valor during this action was inspirational to all the men around him and reflects great credit on him, his country, and the United Nations Forces fighting in Korea."
(5) Citation of Lt. Count de Brouchoven de Bergeyck, C-company's second-in-command :
"When, on 25 April at Hasan-Sang-Ni, his company covered the withdrawal of the battalion, he was the last to leave the positions and, with great coolness, kept the enemy under control and thus enabled the extraction of his unit"
(6) Citation of 2nd Lt. Wolfs, C-company, who received the War Cross with palm (25-08-51) :
"Sent to reinforce C-company on 23 April north of the Imjin River, (he) participated in a counterattack with bayonets by the company commander and some men of the company. On 25 April, at Hansan-Sang-Ni, while his company covered the withdrawal of the battalion, he positioned himself, on his own initiative on the most vulnerable spot. Twice wounded while he manned a Bren gun, he only withdrew after having been formally and repeatedly ordered to do so. He was wounded a third time during the retreat. This officer has shown, during those days, extraordinary valour and bravery."
(7) The BUNC would return to the Imjin River end of May and was involved in operations there. One of those, on 1 June, a raid to establish contact with the enemy north of the river, would lead to the following citations :
Private Terdeuze, B-company - He was posthumously awarded the Knight class of the Order of Leopold II with palm and the War Cross with palm (03-01-52) :
"Has sacrificed his life to cover the withdrawal of his section. Has gloriously fallen in the execution of his mission."
War Cross with 2 palms1st Sergeant Jolly, B-company, received the Military Decoration (Art. 4), 2nd class (31-07-51) :
"Wounded by a machine gun bullet, he refused to be treated in order to continue leading his section. Ordered his men not to come to his aid so as to avoid further casualties. Gave movement orders that saved his section. Set a brilliant example of valour and self-denial."
Private Nizet, B-company, promoted to Sergeant in the meantime, received the War Cross with palm (02.10.52) :
"On 1 June 1951 at Sindae, during a combat mission and under close enemy machine gun fire, he returned the severely wounded 1st Serg. Jolly to our lines in total disregard for his own safety. Subsequently volunteered twice to cross the Imjin to bring back men from another company".
He would later be authorized to put a second palm on his War Cross ribbon (14.01.54) :
"At Chatkol, serving with the United Nations, he as member of an assault detachment he lead, on 3 July 1953, a raid against a Chinese outpost with remarkable vigour and total disregard of danger. His decisiveness and audacity ensured complete success for the raid, inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy, both in men and material".
Private Schmitz, B-company :
"As Bren gunner he covered the retreat of his section that was immobilized by enemy machine gun fire. Continued to remain in his position voluntarily to cover the withdrawal of neighbouring sections. Has shown extraordinary valour on this occasion."
Promoted to Sergeant, he also received the Military Decoration (Art. 4), 2nd class with palm (19.03.54) :
"Courageous NCO, serving in Korea with the United Nations. Particularly distinguished himself at Chatkol, during the violent and victorious battles of March-April 1953 against an agressive and fanatic enemy, especially during the night of 18 - 19 April when continuing to ensure the coordination and supplying of two machine guns in spite of a wound received early in the battle. Has afterwards volunteered to go and find two wounded in front of our lines and only let himself be evacuated after this operation was completed."
(8) Three weeks later, on 19 June 1951, Cdt. Poswick, one of the leading figures in the battalion is killed in a jeep accident. His role during the Imjin battles is recognized by the following citation :
"Has successfully completed the numerous missions that he was entrusted with, notably :
1. in the night of 9 - 10 April, he lead the first patrol across the Imjin River 3 kilometres into the enemy lines,
2. on 23 April he went on a recon mission against the enemy troops that had cut our supply line and successfully lead the extrication of C-company from the lines,
3. he took over command of C-company when its C.O. was wounded and commanded it with calmness and determination during the battles between 23 and 25 April 1951."
Citations for the Imjin Operation of 1 June 1951
Warrant Officer Lochs, pioneer platoon, received the US Silver Star as well as the War Cross with palm (12-12-51) :
"CSM of C-company. Has distinguished himself as an elite NCO with extraordinary courage. Was wounded in Korea, serving with the United Nations, during a counterattack in which he killed two adversaries with his bayonet." ... with a second palm for his War Cross as "Holder of the Silver Star".
Citations for the Haktang-Ni battles (October 1951)
(9) Citation of Captain Dargent, Heavy Weapons company :
"Has been, competently and authoratively, in command of the Heavy Weapons company since its establishment. Has in all circumstances shown good judgement and calm valour which he managed to convey to his entire unit. He was charged to defend, with two platoons of his company, an isolated rocky hill that overlooked the positions of the battalion. In this perimeter he withstood severe assaults by a supernumery enemy, inflicting heavy casualties on them and destroying all that had entered the perimeter. He thus saved the entire battalion from possible destruction. During these actions, he personally moved the reserve machine gun of his unit to a new location and halted the enemy attack a few metres from his command post."
Corporal Deprins, pioneer platoon, was awarded the War Cross with palm (07-05-52) :
"Has, on the night of 12 - 13 October, in an advanced position, shown total disregard of danger. After having emptied all magazines of his machine gun, he tried to stop the enemy's attack with his flamethrower. When the weapon malfunctioned, he maintained his cool and covered his fellow combattant's flamethrower by aiming several hand grenades at the enemy. Through lack of ammunition, he withdrew to his platoon's subcommander and borrowed hand grenades of him. This allowed him to save the lives of the subcommander and his section chief during the withdrawal : when he was situated in a pit with his two fellow combattants, he noticed a Chinese standing above him, automatic rifle at the ready; he withdrew the pin on a grenade and calmly lay the grenade between the feet of the enemy who was killed."
(10) Citation of Sergeant Caudron, pioneer platoon, posthumously awarded the Order of Leopold II, knight class with palm and the War Cross with palm (16-11-51) :
"In the night of 12 - 13 October, he remained at the head of his platoon till the last minute and withdrew as its last man to the command post, thus covering the withdrawal of his platoon. Severely wounded during this action, he died of his wounds later that night."
(11) Citation of Private Klausing, Heavy Weapons company, posthumously awarded the Order of Leopold II, knight class with palm and the War Cross with palm (16-11-51) :
"In the night of 12 - 13 October, (he) covered the flamethrowers with accurate and sustained fire from his machine gun; he inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy at very short range; he was killed in his post during this action."
Private Raussin, Heavy Weapons company :
"During an assault by the enemy, attacking the company's command post from the rear, he moved his machine gun on his own initiative and stopped the enemy attempt by heavy and continuous fire."
Corporal Friedrich, pioneer platoon ? :
"Protected, with calm and great coolness, the withdrawal of his platoon with heavy and sustained fire from his automatic rifle; inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy from short range."
Private Van Looy, pioneer platoon, received the War Cross with palm (07-05-52) :
"In the night of 12-13 Oct. 1951, at Haktang-Ni, on guard in the southern advanced post, he stopped the first enemy assault through his coolness and complete disregard of danger, firing his flamethrower at a range of 15 metres. This action completed, he used his automatic weapon to cover the retreat of his platoon commander."
Sergeant Goossens, Heavy Weapons company :
"Covered the withdrawal of the pioneer platoon by heavy and sustained fire from his gun and prohibited an enemy attack on the company command post. His total disregard of danger allowed him to complete his mission, i.e. the protection of the command post during the entire night."
Warrant Officer Debuck, C-company :
"Designated to take a patrol to reconnoitre enemy positions on 13 October 1951. Despite fire from light armament, automatic fire and mortar fire which was aimed at his platoon from three sides, he accomplished his mission calmly, intelligently and accurately. Has returned his platoon to the friendly lines without losses thanks to his cool and his influence on his men."
Later, during an attack on the batallion's positions on 14 December 1951, this senior NCO received the Military Decoration (Art. 4), 1st class, with palm (07-05-02) :
"Excellent platoon commander, already cited in the Battalion's Orders for 13 October 1951. On 14 December 1951 at Nurum-Kogea, he volunteered to, accompanied by three men, take a Chinese observation post. Showed extraordinary courage and coolness during this patrol and was wounded by four machine gun bullets."
Later, commissioned and a 2nd Lieutenant, he would also receive the Order of Leopold II, officer class, "for his courage whilst serving in the volunteer corps in Korea with the United Nations" (11-08-55).
Sergeant Van Tongerloo, C-company :
"Accompanied a reconnaissance patrol as observer. Managed to signal accurate details on the enemy positions despite being under fire from mortars and automatic weapons firing at the patrol from three directions."
Sergeant Gadeyne, C-company ?, by then promoted to 1st Sergeant received the War Cross with palm :
"In Korea, serving with the United Nations for over two years, first as section chief, then as assistant platoon leader. Has participated in all operations of the volunteer corps and a large number of day and night patrols showing in all circumstances authority, coolness and determination. On 13 October 1951, at Haktang-Ni, in command of a reconnaissance patrol, he managed with determination and skill to execute completely the mission entrusted to him and to extract his unit despite heavy fire from mortars and automatic weapons coming from three sides."
2nd Lt. Van Doorselaere, C-company :
"Very dedicated platoon commander with high degree of professionalism. Has lead, on 17 December 1951 at Nalgun-Dong, a night assault of his platoon on enemy positions. Surrounded by enemy reinforcements, he managed through his cool and clear insight to extricate his platoon and to completely return it to our lines despite heavy artillery bombardments."
2nd Lt. Hubesh, B-company :
"Excellent platoon commander. During a night assault on the Chinese lines on 22 December 1951 at Norum-Kogae, he personally lead some ten men into the, at this point, strong enemy positions. Showed coolness and determination during this difficult operation."
Sergeant Lammers, B-company, received the Military Decoration (Art. 4), 1st class with palm :
"This NCO is always found in the foremost positions. Displayed, on 22 December 1951 at Norum-Kogea, extraordinary bravery. Although the order to withdraw had been given, Sergeant Lammers entered an enemy shelter on his own with the aim to take a prisoner. He put the occupants out of combat but, Chinese reinforcements appeared and he had to hack his way through them with his carbine, reaching our lines despite a serious injury."
Some citations for night assaults in the Imjin River area (December 1951)
Soldier's Medal to Lt. Genis, C-company - the US citation received by this officer was reproduced in the Belgian citation which he received on leaving Korea and which, translated, read as follows :
"Has been in command for more than a year of a combat company and showed remarkable dedication and proficiency. He was always in the forefront and showed, in all circumstances, imperturbable calm and valour. Combattant and leader of the highest order, he is one of the founders of the reliability and repute of the Volunteer Corps. He received the following citation from the President of the United States for the award of the Soldier's Medal : Member of the Belgian Battalion serving with the United Nations, he has distinguished himself by his valorous conduct at Nalgun-Dong. Late in the night of 3 December 1951, when Lt. Genis learned that a friendly patrol was in a minefield and had suffered casualties, he immediately ordered a patrol to assist the men in difficulty. Lt. Genis lead his men, through difficult terrain, to the edge of the minefield and, helped by Pvt. Vanbeselaere, cleared a route to the wounded. After having crawled in the darkness for an hour, defusing every mine, Lt. Genis reached the patrol and lead it to a safe zone. The heroism and professional acumen shown by Lt. Genis on this occasion greatly honor him as well as the Belgian Army."
At this point it is only fitting to illustrate the career of this remarkable soldier : Roger Genis, aged 20, was a NCO with the "Chasseur Ardennais", a crack unit of the Belgian Army, at the start of WW2 on 10 May 1940 and was wounded on 27 May, one day before the surrender of the Belgian forces. Barely recoverd from his injuries, he fled to unoccupied France and joined the French Foreign Legion in February 1941. On the American troops landing at Tlemcen in North Africa, he joined them and finally, in November 1942, arrived in Great Britain to enter service with the Belgian forces there. During the campaign in Belgium and Holland he obtained the British Military Medal which he received from the hands of Field-Marshal Montgomery. Shortly after the end of WW2 he was commissioned and in August 1951 volunteered for service in Korea. In Korea he served as C.O. of C-company and received further honours, as mentioned above. In 1960-61 he participated in operations in Katanga and Ruanda-Burundi. After his promotion to major in 1963, he joined the new Congo national army on 12 October 1964 and a few weeks later, at the head of a Congolese column, he helped liberate over 600 Europeans in Stanleyville and Paulis. Shortly after, he was killed in an ambush near the latter city. It is understood that, during his distinctive career, Major Genis received no less than 19 orders and medals.
Citations and awards for the Chatkol battles (February - April 1953)
(12) Corporal De Grieck was awarded the War Cross with palm (14.01.54) :
"In Korea, serving with the United Nations, whilst on guard at Chatkol during the night of 24 - 25 March 1953 in a listening post between C-company and its outpost, he underwent a Chinese raid and, together with his guard companion, was surrounded. Remained in his post to be able to determine the number of enemies and transmit this information to the outpost and the company. Having received the order to withdraw, he retreated with his companion, with the greatest calm and alternating fire and movement thus causing casualties amongst his agressors. Already distinguished himself during the night of 8 - 9 March by his excellent conduct in the same post in spite of heavy shelling".
Sergeant R. Leeten received the Military Decoration (Art. 4), 2nd class, with palm (05-06-54) :
"Machine gunner and corporal, in Korea, serving with the United Nations, he distinguished himself during the violent and victorious battles at Chatkol, in March-April 1953, against an agressive and fanatic enemy, most particularly on 8 April. Wounded early in the attack against C-company, he refused to be evacuated before the end of the battle. Wounded once more during a Chinese attack on 18-19 April, he rejoined his team which was under heavy bombardment and valiantly participated in repulsing two Chinese assaults."
The same decoration was also bestowed on Sergeant J.P. Poets on the same day albeit for an entirely different action :
"Assistant platoon leader in Korea, serving with the United Nations, who distinguished himself during the victorious combats at Chatkol, in March-April 1953, against a fanatic enemy. During the night of 24 - 25 March, despite being wounded by mortar shells, he remained with his command until ordered to retreat. Was once more wounded by a mortar shell in the night of 18 - 19 April 1953 whilst assuring the supply of ammunition to his platoon during a heavy enemy bombardment."
1st Sergeant Van Audekerke received both the Military Decoration (Art. 4), 2nd class, with palm and the War Cross with palm (14-01-54) :
"Brave and calm assistant platoon leader serving in Korea with the United Nations. Particularly distinguished himself during the violent and victorious combats at Chatkol in March-April 1953 against an agressive and fanatic enemy, especially during the attack of 18 - 19 April when he moved through heavy enemy fire to coordinate and ensure the effectiveness of his unit's fire. On his own iniative he brought in a bazooka team to replace a machine gun team that had been taken out and this in a particularly heavily attacked spot. Voluntarily went to return a wounded man from a listening post that had been heavily bombarded."
The Military Decoration (Art.4), 2nd class, was awarded to Corporal A. Van Elderen (05-06-54) :
"Corporal and stretcher bearer in Korea serving with the United Nations. Distinguished himself by his dedication and high sense of duty during the violent and victorious battles at Chatkol in March-April 1953, particularly during the attack of 18 - 19 April, when tending to the wounded burnt by phosphorous despite having burnt hands himself. Completed his tasks before allowing himself to be treated."
More citations ...
As mentioned above, these few citations are but a small part of the total awarded. A table listing many more can be accessed by clicking HERE.
Apart from the awards already mentioned elsewhere on these pages, the following foreign awards are also known to have been bestowed :
US Bronze Star with "V" device to Pvt. Spaens and Lt. Vilet,
Chungmu in the Order of Military Merit (Rep. of Korea) to Lt. Count de Schouteete de Tervarent, Lt. Vilet,
Sungrye Medal in the Order of Diplomatic Service Merit to W/O Tobback, author of "Groene Mutsen, Bruine Mutsen".
A citation found for Pvt. Spaens sheds some light on the award of the Bronze Star :
"At Sangdong-Ni (Korea) on 25 June 1953. Brave and dedicated soldier. Has of his own accord and without hesitation gone to the aid of a group of American and Belgian wounded under heavy enemy fire. Has thus saved the lives of several wounded by transferring them to a safer area."
For his bravery, Spaens received a battlefield promotion to Corporal and the Belgian War Cross (ribbon device unknown but most likely a bronze palm).
© Hendrik Meersschaert, 2002 - 2017