BELGIAN DECORATIONS OF THE KOREAN WAR
About 3,500 volunteers served in the Belgian Battalion during the Korean War. The Belgian Battalion saw service in Korea between 18 December 1950 and 27 July 1953 and was made up of a first contingent of troops which served in 1951 and a second contingent which more or less relieved the first and did duty during the remainder of the conflict. Of the 3,500 men involved, 106 were killed and over 350 wounded.
The following medals were instituted or used for the Korean War :
Crossed Swords for the Belgian Orders
The statutes of this decoration were amended in order to enable it to be awarded for the Korean conflict as an individual or collective bravery award. For a Citation by the Ministery of National Defence a bronze palm was attached to the ribbon. At first this palm bore the royal monogramme consisting of 2 letters "L", the last one mirrored on the first one, with "III" in between them (Leopold III), i.e. the palm for WW2. On 26 November 1952 this was changed into a single letter "L".
Crossed swords with a little planchet mentioning "Korea" or "Corée" were instituted for attachment on chivalry orders' ribbons.
The War Cross
The Commemorative Medal for Operations abroad, with bar "Corée-Korea"
This bronze medal was instituted on 26 September 1951 and it was decreed that a bronze bar with the name of the foreign theatre of operations for which it was awarded should be worn on its ribbon. Recipients are Belgians or foreigners serving in Belgian units serving in foreign theatres of operations.
For the Korean War, the bar issued was bilingual : "COREE - KOREA" (sometimes also "KOREA - COREE").
Three bars were also instituted for three battles for which the participating units were cited in the Army's Order of the Day :
"IMJIN" for the Imjin River, April 1951 (to participating members of the 1st contingent)
"HAKTANG-NI" for the battle at that place in October 1951 (2nd contingent) and
"CHATKOL", the battle of Chatkol took place in March-April 1953 (2nd contingent).
Those wounded during the Korean War wear a red enamelled cross, 5 mm, for each wound received and each individual citation is recognized by a small
bronze lion on a round 5mm plaque.
The Medal of the War Volunteer
Instituted 7 April 1952 for volunteers that served "for the duration of the war". Those that volunteered for duty in Korea had a bronze bar "COREE - KOREA" put on the ribbon. Under specific conditions, this medal could be awarded retroactive to both 1st and/or 2nd World War veterans and this was indicated with dated bronze bars "1914-1918" and "1940-1945".
The Medal of the Combatant War Volunteer
The United Nations' Korean Medal
Instituted one day after the previous medal, this merely consists of a bar "PUGNATOR" which is placed on the previous medal's ribbon. In case of an award to a Korean War volunteer for actual combat, a silver "COREE - KOREA" bar is worn over the equally silver Pugnator bar. Under specific conditions, this medal could be awarded retroactively to both 1st and/or 2nd World War veterans and this was indicated with dated bars "1914-1918" and "1940-1945".
The United Nations awarded this bronze medal to all who served at least one day in Korea (including the post-armistice period). For Belgians the medal seems to exist only in a French version, having a French reverse text and bar "COREE".
I have yet to come across a bilingual version of this medal ...
© Hendrik Meersschaert, 2017
The Republic of Korea War Medal
Members of the United Nations forces in the Korean Conflict normally also received the South Korean War Medal and members of the Belgian Battalion were thus also eligible for it. The original ribbon does not have the Korean Yin-Yan emblem woven into it as later replacement ribbons often do. I have even come across a glazed emblem having been put on the ribbon.
For more historical information on the Belgian forces in the Korean Conflict, just click on the logo below...