The War That Never Ended: NZ Veterans Remember Korea, as told to Pip Desmond (Penguin, RRP $45):
It’s been called the forgotten war, but for the New Zealanders who served in the Korean War during the 1950s, and their families, it hasn’t been forgotten.
Forty-five Kiwis died during that conflict in a land many knew nothing about, in a war most didn’t understand. And still, decades later, it is a Cold War conflict that is unresolved, peace has not yet been declared.
Pip Desmond has interviewed 12 Kiwi veterans and their memories are recorded in this honest and compelling account of their experiences.
Korea was divvied up at the end of the World War II’s Pacific War. An agreement of the allies meant the country was divided along the 38th Parallel, with United States military forces occupying the southern half and Soviet military forces the northern half.
The plan was for the country to eventually be reunited with free elections to establish a democratic government. However, the elections didn’t happen and divisions became more and more pronounced between the two sides, culminating in North Korean forces invading part of South Korea in 1950. From there, was was not far away and while most of the international troops who fought against the North were from the United States (88 per cent, according to Wikipedia), there were also soldiers from many other countries – including 6000 from New Zealand.
Those soldiers wore the New Zealand uniform but received no fanfare for their homecoming because what happened in Korea was an unpopular war.
As the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Korean War Armistice nears, this book provides a perfect opportunity to learn a little more about what happened there from the point of view of those who were there. The soldiers’ stories are told with honesty and often a good dose of humour.
This is a part of our history that is often overlooked but their stories deserve to be told.
Read more about southerners who served in Malaya and Borneo during the Cold War: