THE BELGIAN FORCES IN THE KOREAN WAR (BUNC)
Lieutenant PIERRE BEAUPREZ
Born in Ostend on 21-07-1921, he escaped capture in 1940 and eventually joined 4 Commando Troop (Belgian) in 1942. After training, he was first sent to Algeria (North Africa) from where he went to Italy and saw action against the German Gustav Line in 1943 and 1944. After a short spell in Yugoslavia, on Vis island, he returned to England and in October 1944, set foot on Belgian soil where he was active in the preparation of the Walcheren landing of 1 November 1944. After the island of Walcheren was captured, he would serve in the its defence till January 1945 and then in Germany, from February to September 1945, on several disarmament operations and war criminals searches.
Leaving Germany in December 1945, he enrolled as an officer-candidate and was commissioned in 1946. However, in 1947 he left the army and went to live in England. When the Korean War broke out, he immediately volunteered for service and went with the first contingent to Korea as company commander of C-company. He was killed in an explosion on 18 March 1951, during a patrol across the Han River, the first casualty of the BUNC. Posthumously, the Knight Class of the Order of Leopold II, with palm, was conferred.
For his services in WW2, he had, as a corporal, received the War Cross with gilt lion device : "Volunteer in the Commando unit from its inception. Has distinguished himself during the Italian campaign by his cool and courage. Distinguished himself during a patrol at the Sangro where he was the first to swim across the river, a mission for which he had volunteered. Took part in attacks on the Gustav Line and lead, on several occasions and under heavy mortar fire, a Goatley boat across the Garigliano".
© Hendrik Meersschaert, 2002 - 2017
Lt Beauprez, left,
Sergeant-Major De Preter being decorated, right.
Sergeant-Major EMIEL DE PRETER
Born in Louvain on 1 September 1929, he joined the Belgian Commandoes in 1949 and went to the Infantry School to become a NCO in the reserves. After a short span as instructor, he returned to civilian life in April 1950. Barely a few months later, in August, he volunteered for the BUNC and left for Korea with the first contingent on 18 December. As section leader in C-platoon, C-company, he saw extensive front line duty in the Imjin battles of 1951 during which, he was wounded by an exploding hand grenade. For his bravery at the Imjin, he would receive the US Bronze Star with "V" device.
Signing on for another tour of duty, he became CSM of C-company in August 1951. He would later sign on for a third tour as well. From August 1951 till May 1953, De Preter would continue to see service with the battalion at such places as Haktang-Ni, in Operation Moonlight (spring 1952) in which he was once more wounded, at Chocco-Ri (August-September 1952), in the Chorwon "Death Valley" (Oct.-Nov. 1952), on White Horse Hill (Nov.-Dec. 1952) and be present during the whole of the 55 days at Chatkol. During the 40 days at Handong-Ni, he was wounded a third time, on 16 May, when a mortar shell hit the truck with which he was supplying C-company.
Ending up in hospital in Tokio, he returned to Belgium on 7 August 1953, 33 months after leaving for Korea. After further hospitalisation and taking up leave, he eventually returned to civil life and his former Brussels employer as one of the few people entitled to all battle bars for Korea. Besides having been awarded the Military Decoration (Art. 4), 2nd class with palm and the War Cross with palm, he was also made "Hwarang in the Order of Military Merit" (Rep. of Korea).
Warrant Officer 1st class MEDARD LEIDING
Born in Gent on 2 September 1930. After becoming an NCO, he was assigned to 4 Troop Commando and volunteered for Korea in August 1950, leaving with the first contingent as assistant platoon leader, 1st platoon, C-company. For his part in the Imjin battles, he received the US Silver Star and the War Cross with palm. Having returned to Belgium in October 1951, after completing his tour of duty, he once more volunteered for Korea in February 1952 and was assigned to the Heavy Weapons company as CSM and, once again, took part in several combat and reconnaissance patrols.
On his return to Belgium in February 1953, he was assigned to the Para-commando regiment and would serve in just about all humanitarian operations in Congo and Ruanda-Burundi till the end of his career in 1985. In between these operations, he served in various functions as commando instructor, RSM of the Anti-Tank Company and RSM Specialist Centre.
WO1 Leiding receiving his Croix de Guerre on his return to Belgium, left,
Capt-Comm. Lochs, right.
Captain-Commandant JAAK LOCHS
Born in Neeroeteren on 24 April 1923. Went into service with the Commandoes end 1945 and was assigned to 1 Troop. In September 1950, as 1st Sergeant, he volunteered for Korea and was appointed CSM of C-company, leaving for Korea with the first contingent. During the Imjin battles he distinguished himself in a bayonet attack to recover an abandoned position and would receive the US Silver Star for his courage in battle.
Lochs signed on for another tour of duty and was transferred to the Pioneer platoon as its platoon leader and saw further action at Chocco-Ri where he took part in numerous combat and reconnaissance patrols. He returned to Belgium on 16 Nov. 1952 and would later attend an officer course. Commissioned, he would take up several different functions to eventually become C.O. of the Para-Centre in Schaffen. He died on 17 May 1977 in Diest.
Colonel JEAN MILITIS
Born on 15 January 1922 in Sainte-Marie-Sur-Semois, his military career started as a resistance member during WW2. Once liberated, he joined the American forces in September 1944, took part in the Battle of the Bulge (Ardennes) and stayed with his US unit until the armistice of 8 May 1945. During his service with the Americans he was wounded three times.
On 1 December 1945 he joined the Commando Regiment with the rank of Sergeant and in 1946 went on an officer course. Commissioned, he was assigned to 3 Troop as platoon leader and would eventually become the Troop's C.O. Having volunteered for Korea, he left with the first contingent as B-company's commander. During 1951, he would take part in the heavy fighting along the Imjin River and return to Belgium at the end of his tour of duty to take up command of 2nd Company Commando Regiment.
In 1955 he left for Congo for a three year tour as an instructor on the Kamina base and was the instigator of the 10-day "African Survival" exercise which would become a standard part of Para-Commando training. On his return to Belgium he was promptly assigned the post of C.O. of the Commando training centre which he would lead for the next 6 years. During this time he would develop a number of new training exercises aimed at improving the already high standards of fitness and endurance coupled with tactics. He left the army in 1964 and would take up several functions afterwards, amongst them Chief of the Defence Minister's Cabinet and a political function in his native region.
For his WW2 services, Militis, then a 2nd Lieutenant, was awarded the Crown Order, knight class with palm, and the War Cross with palm, as well as the Resistance Medal (30-04-1947) : "Member of the Secret Army, resistance member of the first hour. Organised and took part in several sabotage acts on railroads. Lead a daytime weapons and munitions transport through the German lines and took part in rescuing a betrayed parachuting. Took part in the liberation combats, especially at the bridge in Chiny."
Col. Militis, left,
WO1 Peeters, right.
Warrant Officer 1st class VICTOR PEETERS
Born on 5 September 1930 in Olmen, he entered the army as a national serviceman with 1 Troop Commando on 1 April 1950. After his national service period, he signed on as professional army volunteer and was promoted to Sergeant early in 1952. Having volunteered for Korea, he arrived there in July and took part in several operations as section leader in C-company, amongst them Kojak-Kol, Operation Moonlight, Chocco-Ri, Chorwon, White Horse Hill and the 55 days at Chatkol. He received a battlefield promotion to 1st Sergeant for his valour at Chatkol on 19 April 1953.
He left Korea on 3 June 1953 to serve with the 2nd Battalion Commando and a few months later managed to obtain a glider pilot certificate. In the next years he would serve several times in Congo and would see further combat during the riots leading up to Congo's independence in such places as Kamina, Kitona, Leopoldville, Libenge and Semena. He also took part in humanitarian operations there (Stanleyville and Paulis) in 1964. Having in the meantime (1960) received his certificate as dispatcher, he finally was posted as Corps Adjutant with 1st Company Red Berets and was pensioned off on 1 October 1986 after 36 years of service.
Lieutenant-General GEORGES VIVARIO
Born in Liège on 17 October 1910, he finished the Royal Military School courses for artillery and engineer officers in 1931 and was appointed 2nd Lieutenant with the Horse Artillery Regiment. His promotion to Lieutenant followed in december 1934. In 1937 he was transferred to the Artillery School as an instructor.
During the German invasion of Belgium in May 1940, he served with his unit and was evacuated to France where he was taken prisoner by the Germans. A captain in 1945, he took up service with the Commando Regiment after 5 years as a POW and was promoted to Captain-Commandant in 1946. Having finished a staff course in 1950 and having been promoted to Major, he volunteered for the BUNC, serving in Korea till February 1953, first as assistant battalion commander, then as C.O. and Lieutenant-Colonel and took part in the many operations of the unit.
On his return he went to the Para-Commando training centre. Nearly a year later, in January 1955, he was appointed Adjutant to the King. Between 1953 and 1956 he was commander of the Para-Commando Regiment and in August 1956 he was appointed to SHAPE. In 1959, he went to the Centre for Field Artillery and, promoted to Colonel in March of that year, took command of the 1st Field Artillery Detachment.
During the troubles in Congo, in 1960, he served as commanding officer of the operational troops in the Lower-Congo basis. On his return to Belgium, he was, in December 1960, installed as Chief of the General Staff at the Interior Forces HQ but was soon after, in 1961, appointed to the Allied Land Forces of Central Europe HQ. He also served as Chief of the Defence Minister's cabinet from May 1961 to April 1965 and was promoted to Major-General in December 1964. In 1965 he took command of the 16th Division. A year later, he was named C.O. of the Interior Defence Forces.
Promoted to Lieutenant-General in 1967, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Joint General Staff. He died in Rixensart on 15 November 1990.
During his career Lt.-Gen. Vivario received the following decorations :
Commemorative War Medal 1940-45 with crossed sabres (06-10-47)
Prisoner of War Medal 1940-45 with 5 clasps (06-10-47)
Crown Order, knight class (long service, 15-11-48)
War Cross with Palm (25-08-51, for Korea)
Order of Leopold II, Commander with Palm and additional Palm for the War Cross (27-02-53, for Korea)
Commemorative Medal for Foreign Operations with bars "Corée-Korea", "Imjin" and "Haktang-Ni" (25-02-53, for Korea)
Order of Leopold I, knight class, military division (long service, 25-06-53)
Crown Order, promotion to Officer class (long service, 25-06-53)
Combatant Volunteer Medal with silver clasps "Pugnator" and "Corée-Korea" (11-09-53, for Korea)
Fourragère of the War Cross (14-06-54, for Korea)
Order of Leopold I, promotion to Officer class, military division (long service, 15-11-54)
Military Cross 2nd class (long service, 08-04-55)
Military Cross 1st class (long service, 08-04-57)
Crown Order, promotion to Commander class (long service, 08-04-58)
Order of Leopold I, promotion to Commander class (long service, 20-07-59)
Commemorative Medal of the Reign of King Albert I (12-07-62)
Crown Order, promotion to Grand Officer class (long service, 07-04-65)
Order of Leopold I, promotion to Grand Officer class (long service, 14-11-69)
Medal of the Combattant Volunteer 1940-45 (for WW2, 22-05-69)
Chungmy Distinguished Military Service Medal with Gold Star (Rep. of Korea)
Legion of Merit (USA)
Korea Service Medal (UN)
War Medal (Rep. of Korea)
Presidential Unit Citation (USA)
Presidential Unit Citation (Rep. of Korea)
Honour and Military Merit Cross with gilt Palm (Luxembourg)
Ulchi Distinguished Military Service Medal (Rep. of Korea)
Saint-Olav Order, Commander class (Norway)
"De Mayo al Merito" Order, Commander class (Honduras)
Order of Service Merit, 4th class (Rep. of Korea)
Order "Valeur du Cameroun", Grand Officer class (Cameroon)
Order of the Sacred Treasure, 1st class (Japan)
Order of the Dannebrog, Commander class (Denmark)
Legion of Honour, Grand Officer class (France)