South Korean honour for war vet
To mark Armed Forces Day and also the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, features writer CARLY LEWTHWAITE spoke to a Peterborough soldier about fighting in that conflict.
TODAY, on Armed Forces Day, we are asked to think about service personnel both past and present, and one man doing just that will be city man Reginald Briggs.
The 77-year-old veteran joined the army in 1949 and trained in Harrogate and Catterick as a Royal Corps of Signals operator.
He was posted overseas to Tripoli in North Africa before later volunteering for active service in Korea.
Overshadowed in history by the Second World War and Vietnam, the Korean War was one of the significant conflicts of the 20th century, and saw many countries pull together in their fight for freedom.
During the early hours of June 25, 1950, the North Korean army crossed the border and invaded South Korea in an unprovoked attack. Their goal was to reunite the Korean peninsula, which was divided after the Second World War.
Poorly trained and illequipped, the South Korean army was quickly overrun and the south’s capital city, Seoul, was captured.
Just a young man at the time, Reginald spent two years fighting in freezing conditions.
He said: “We lived in the ground, in bunkers dug into the hillside. In winter you had to make your own form of heating in a biscuit tin using an old shell case, water and diesel drip which would explode if you got the mixture wrong.
“Our clothing consisted of two pairs of trousers, two vests, a thick army shirt, a heavy army pullover, a combat jacket, an inner parka and a heavy outer parka with a hood. You had to get into your sleeping bag with all this on, boots as well.”
Earlier this week Reginald received a letter from Lee Myung-bak, President of the Republic of Korea.
Sent to all veterans of the Korean War, he thanked Reginald for his courage in fighting for their cause.
The letter says: “We honour your selfless sacrifice in fighting tyranny and
HONOUR: Reg Briggs (77) and his wife Margaret (73), of Chaucer Road, with the letter they received from the Republic of Korea President. METP-25-06-10DL541 aggression ... salute your courage in enduring the unimaginable horrors of war and pay tribute to your commitment in protecting liberty and freedom.”
Of Armed Forces Day, also known as Veterans’ Day, Reginald said: “It is important to recognise what the armed forces have done, and are still doing. I don’t think there is enough awareness of what goes on.
“I don’t regret what I did. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
“I was 16 years of age and decided that I wanted to save the world and I went out and did it.” SaviOUR: Reginald joined the army at 16 after deciding he wanted to save the world – and did just that!