TODAY (Thursday, July 27) marks 70 years since the armistice was signed at the end of the Korean War. 

Korean War veterans and their families were invited by The Royal British Legion to participate in Remembering Korea – 70 years on, a commemorative event at Horse Guards Parade in London acknowledging their service and sacrifices.

Philippa Rawlinson, director of Remembrance at the Royal British Legion, said: “More than 100,000 British and Commonwealth armed forces fought in the Korean War, facing harsh conditions, freezing winters and fierce battles. 

“Many showed great bravery despite, at times, being heavily outnumbered by the enemy. 

“More troops were killed in the Korean War than any other war since the Second World War, yet now, 70 years on since the end of the conflict, many feel Korea is the ‘Forgotten War’.

“It is vital we all remember and honour those who served in the Korean War and that the sacrifice of the 1,100 British men who lost their lives is never forgotten.”

Alan Guy MBE, a 90-year-old from Byfleet, attended the event. 

Alan didn’t have the easiest start to his life. The Liverpool bombings left him homeless, but he found refuge and education in North Wales, after which he joined the army at 17. 

Serving in the Royal Army Medical Corp’s 10 Field Hygiene Section, Alan was deployed in 1952 at just 19. He remained in Korea until the end of the war, by which time he had risen to the rank of sergeant.

Alan’s unit, a tight-knit group of 30 specialists, was tasked with teaching soldiers on disease prevention and health and hygiene. 

Prior to his Korea assignment, Alan underwent rigorous three-year training, learning how to fight diseases common in both hot and cold climates. 

“I visited all the Commonwealth units; giving general advice on all aspects of how to prevent frostbite, how to avoid getting malaria and how to treat water supplies,” Alan explained. 

Alan would also conduct courses for frontline troops. 

“One of the things we showed them was how to filter muddy water out of ditches. The troops realised this could be really useful if they were stuck somewhere; it could really save their lives.”

Korea left an indelible mark on Alan’s life. 

He said his first experience sailing into Pusan was how the smell would hit you – the fields were filled with human excrement. 

Alan has two memories that he remembers to this day.

 He said: “One day we were going up to the front line and our jeep went into a hole that was full of water. 

“We got towed out by a truck that was passing, but when the sun came out, all this mud dried up in my clothes.” 

He continued: “As we were based in a tented camp, you’d get the local kids who would attach themselves to the unit. 

“There was a young lad – he must have been about ten. He latched upon me as a fatherly figure and he’d do little errands for me or polish my boots.”

Despite losing more than 1,000 comrades – a total that surpassed the toll of the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Falklands – and facing minus-40-degree winters and boiling summers, Alan has never regretted his service. 

He has revisited South Korea three times post-war and is deeply impressed by the nation’s modernisation and progress. 

It was for his role as a liaison officer for Korean War veterans that Alan was appointed MBE. 

He was also the first one to receive the Order of Civil Merit from the Korean president. 

In 2023, marking 70 years since the end of the Korean War, Alan reflects on the lack of unity which he hoped to see in his lifetime. 

He added he can’t see any answer to nuclear war. 

When Alan joined his ex-servicemen’s branch, there were 5,000 Korea veterans. There are now only 1,000 Korea veterans left. Alan’s branch still meets every month. 

Sadly, what once was a group of 70 has now become 15. 

But Alan now spends much of his spare time looking after his wife of 67 years. His wife and two children accompanied him at the commemorative event in London.