Saturday, 13 August 2022

Veteran of ‘forgotten’ Korean War receives peace medal

A VETERAN of the Korean War has been presented with an Ambassador for Peace Medal.

A VETERAN of the Korean War has been presented with an Ambassador for Peace Medal.

Frederick Philpott, 84, from Bix, received the honour from Korean military defence naval attaché Captain Seungeon Ji along with 35 other  veterans.

The medal is awarded to British veterans who served in the war from 1950 to 1953 to express the gratitude of the people of Korea for their sacrifices in helping re-establish the Korean free nation.

The presentation was held at Tyndale Baptist Church in Reading and was arranged by the British Korean War Veterans’ Association. Mr Philpott said: “It’s a little bit of appreciation, isn’t it? They are all the forgotten boys — you don’t hear the Korean War mentioned much but there’s a graveyard full of people out there who never came home.”

He served in Korea from 1951 until the summer of 1953, primarily as a driver helping to relay orders to the front line and transporting officers.

It took the soldiers six weeks to make the journey by boat to the Far East.

Mr Philpott said: “By the time we got there the replacements we had come to see had gone home as they were switching regiments so fast to give everyone experience in battle.” He was part of the 29th Independent Infantry Brigade and was attached to the 29th Brigade headquarters, mostly near the Imjin River. He drove jeeps, lorries and armoured vehicles during the conflict.

Occasionally, he flew to Japan to pass on orders to British forces.

“The only trouble was we had to catch a boat back,” he said.

“You never had a bed, you made your own bed — either that or you slept on the ground. We used to make our beds out of telephone wires and sticks used for fencing.”

He recalled having to start the vehicles at regular intervals throughout the night to prevent the engines from freezing due to the extreme cold.

On one occasion he had actor Frankie Howerd as a passenger when the comedian visited the country to entertain the troops. He took him for a tour near the Imjin River and remembered him asking to take a trip across one of the bridges.

“I said ‘that’s where the Chinese are’ and he said smartly, ‘get me out of here!’”

After Korea, Mr Philpott served at the Fighting Vehicles Research Development Establishment in Scotland before leaving the military in 1962.

He then worked at a gamekeeper on the Bix estate for 40 years.

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