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Abbey Marks 60th Anniversary of the Korean War

Wednesday, 10th July 2013

Abbey Marks 60th Anniversary of the Korean War

His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester attended a Service of Thanksgiving to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of hostilities in the Korean War at the Abbey on Thursday 11th July.

In his bidding the Dean of Westminster, the very Reverend Dr John Hall, said:

Sixty years after the end of hostilities in Korea, we meet to thank God for the armistice and to pray for a lasting peace on the Korean peninsula.
Many gathered here vividly remember the three-year war. Well-established links between our two nations mean that Korean place names are no longer strange: Seoul, Busan, P’yongyang. But to the soldiers, such places mean much more: for these were the hills over which they fought.
We recall that the Korean War was fought by the United Nations: by the end of the war no fewer than twenty-four nations had taken part. We give thanks for collaboration between the nations.

The Address was given by Major General Mike Swindells CB, National President, British Korean Veterans Association (BKVA).

Colonel George Gadd OBE, National Chairman, BKVA, read Isaiah 25: 1-9 and The Right Honourable Mark Francois MP, Minister of State for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Pensions, read Ephesians 6: 10-18.

HE Sungnam Lim, Korean Ambassador to the Court of St James read a Presidential message from Park Geun-hye, President of the Republic of Korea.

Barry Tunnicliffe, Vice President, BKVA Birmingham Branch, read Absent Veterans by David Lidstone (1920-2004), Private, the Gloucestershire Regiment.

Major General Sir Peter Downward KCVO CB DSO DFC, Patron, BKVA, and HE the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea laid wreaths at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior.

Prayers were led by The Venerable Dr Jane Hedges, Canon of Westminster and said by William Anthony Stevens, Veteran, Royal Corps of Signals, Charlotte O’Kane, Executive Committee member, BKVA, and wife of Henry O’Kane RUR, former Prisoner of War and Lieutenant General Andrew Gregory CB, Chief of Defence Personnel.

During the service the Union flag, the National Standard of the BKVA and the flag of the Republic of Korea were carried through the church and placed in the Sacrarium.

The Reverend Jonathan Woodhouse QHC, Chaplain General said the Act of Rededication.

The service was sung by the Westminster Abbey Special Service Choir conducted by James O’Donnell, Organist and Master of the Choristers. The organ was played by Martin Ford, Assistant Organist. Peter Holder, Organ Scholar played before the service.

The Band of the Welsh Guards, directed by Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Barnwell, Senior Director of Music, Household Division played before and after the service.  Last Post and Reveille were played by Lance Corporal Stuart Laing from the Band of the Welsh Guards. Pipes were played by Fusilier Mckenzie, Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland.  

Over 100,000 British troops served in Korea, many of them National Servicemen, together with Commonwealth forces from Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, and South Africa. United Nations forces suffered 142,000 casualties. Over a million South Koreans died during the conflict.

An armistice was finally signed on 27th July 1953 ordering a cease-fire along the battle lines. Because negotiations for a formal peace treaty between the two nations failed, the peninsula remains divided roughly along the 38th Parallel.

See also:

The Order of Service (PDF, 163 KB)

Message from the President of the Republic of Korea

I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the British service personnel for their invaluable sacrifices during the Korean War in defence of freedom and democracy in the Republic of Korea.

Your noble sacrifice laid the groundwork for the development of the Republic of Korea and has served as a foundation for mutual trust between Korea and the United Kingdom.

I take great satisfaction from the fact that our two countries have developed friendly and cooperative relations in a wide range of fields over the past 60 years and sincerely hope that these longstanding bilateral ties will see further advancements in the years ahead.

In closing, I would like to extend my best wishes for the continued good health of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and for the everlasting prosperity of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

President of the Republic of Korea

Park Geun-hye


It’s a privilege to live and work here – the Abbey really is the heart of the country and its history.


Martin - The Dean’s Verger

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