New Zealand Embassy Seoul, South Korea

Visit to Korea by New Zealand Korean War veterans

Mr Peter Godfrey a Korean War and World War II veteran ‘searching for his mates’ on the New Zealand Korean War Veterans Roll of Honour outside the National War Memorial Museum, following the ANZAC Dawn Service on 25 April 2012. He is assisted by SQNLDR Michael Cunningham and the partner of the Defence Attache, Ms Amanda Valentine.

Over the period 22 – 27 April 2012 the Korean Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs hosted 200 Commonwealth Korean War Veterans and supporters on a revisit programme to the Republic of Korea. Included in this group were 20 New Zealand veterans and supporters. The timing of the visit was significant as the veterans got to celebrate both the anniversary of the Battle of Kapyeong (24 April 1951) and ANZAC Day (25 April 1915) at the ANZAC memorial at Kapyeong and at the National War Memorial Museum, respectively. New Zealand’s foremost military contribution to the Korean War, 16 Field Regiment fought at the Battle of Kapyeong and was awarded a Republic of Korea Presidential Citation for its gallant action. It was the first time that many of the veterans had visited Korea since the Korean War, and without exception they were overcome by both the hospitality and respect shown by the Korean people and the progress the country had made in the 59 years since the war.

The MPVA sponsored programme has been running since 1975 and in that time hundreds of New Zealand Korean War Veterans have had the opportunity to revisit Korea, paying their respects to their fallen comrades and seeing ‘first hand’ the wonderful achievements of the Korean people, appreciating the opportunities taken in acknowledgment of their sacrifices. The veterans attended functions at the New Zealand Ambassador’s residence, participated in commemorations at the Korean War Cemetery, at Kapyeong, in Busan at the United Nations Military Cemetery Korea , and on ANZAC Day. They enjoyed the famed ‘Miso’ cultural production, a visit to the Demilitarised Zone and a ‘farewell banquet’ hosted by the Minster of Patriots and Veterans Affairs, Hon Park, Sung-choon; a highlight of which was an account of the Commonwealth contribution to the Korean War by the famed General (rtd) Paik, Sun-yup; an elder statesman and Korea’s first four star general.



Nga mate haere, haere, haere
Tatou te hunga ora tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa
To the dead, we bid farewell, farewell, farewell,
To us, the living, greetings, greetings, greetings to us all

Honoured veterans
Very distinguished guests

Over the years, many Australian and New Zealand veterans along with members of their families have, like you, made a pilgrimage to this place.

We come to remember, and in some cases learn about the Korean War, the Battle of Kapyeong, and the ANZAC, Commonwealth, and wider UNC contribution.

We come to pay our respects to those whose sacrifice reminds us that freedom comes at a price.

In particular, in this ceremony we honour those Australians and New Zealanders who gave their lives for that principle.

As we stand here today with Hill 504 rising up behind us, our thoughts turn to those young Australians and New Zealanders who came to Korea with the exuberance of youth.

They endured the hardships of climate and discomforts of this rugged terrain. They waged a desperate struggle here and in the surrounding area in April 1951.

They helped turn the tide.

An historian wrote about New Zealand’s participation, “The battle was a team effort. Artillery, armour and infantry all played key roles, the absence of any of which would have led to a very different outcome.” (Ian McGibbon)

Commentators at the time praised our troops for having “grimly upheld the ANZAC traditions”.

And the outcome of the battle helped make the enemy leadership recognise that a decisive victory on the battlefield was beyond their reach.

New Zealanders and Australians played many roles in the Korean War - on land, in the air and at sea, at both the front lines and in supporting roles.

We remember all these contributions today as well as those of the men that actually fought and died at Kapyeong.

The sacrifices made by ANZACs in the Korean War were shared with other Commonwealth countries, including the United Kingdom and Canada, with the United States forces and with those of the other nations who responded to the United Nations call.

We also remember the losses of the Korean Armed Forces and Korean people, who suffered devastating loss of life as their country was ravaged by war. Let us not forget their sacrifice.

Those who know warfare best do not celebrate war on occasions like this. On the contrary, they dwell on more fundamental things. And so should we.

Qualities like courage, duty, responsibility to others, endurance, and dogged determination to do the very best one can through the most testing and frightening of trials. These are the qualities to celebrate at this time.

And to all veterans here today, I say these are the qualities you and those serving with you demonstrated in Korea.

To secure a better future for this country and peace for our region, you gave your youth and numbers of your comrades gave their lives.

The precious gifts of freedom and democracy for which you fought are flourishing as never before in this land.

The close friendship among New Zealand, Australia and Korea, forged on the battlefields over half a century ago has prospered in the peace since then. It was probably unimaginable to you veterans at that time that our people, our societies and our economies would develop strong linkages in so many areas.

We must continue to build those ties, recognising always that it was your efforts that laid the foundations for all we enjoy today and all that will come from our relationships in the future.

We must also recognise the unfinished business of the Korean War and the goal we all share to see peace and stability on the whole peninsula.

Veterans, Korea has not forgotten you and your comrades. We are reminded by the constant and heartfelt expression of gratitude from Koreans for your contribution.

We are reminded when we see our flags flying with those of the sixteen members of the United Nations Command around Korea and by the New Zealand and Australian Defence Force officers still serving with United Nations Command.

Those who served will not be forgotten.

We will remember them.



25 APRIL 2012

Distinguished Guests

We gather to remember.

Here, and across New Zealand, Australia, and indeed around the world, we come together on ANZAC Day, including at Gallipoli itself, to recall the deeds of the ANZACs - the men of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

On 25 April, 1915, the sounds of battle were everywhere.

We can but try to imagine the scene on that day: the crash of naval gun fire, the staccato sound of machine guns, the calls of command, the cries of the wounded, and the moans of the dying.

The Australians were first ashore. The New Zealanders went ashore not long after. They entered separately, but the mayhem on the beaches and the cliffs meant New Zealanders quickly melded with Australians.

You couldn’t tell one from another.

This was the beginning of the tradition of ANZAC.

During the eight month campaign New Zealand lost over 2,700 men killed - with thousands more wounded or victims of illness.

The Australians lost thousands in the Dardanelles campaign.

Others we fought alongside - the British, the French and the Indian units - also suffered terrible losses.

It is appropriate too that we acknowledge the sacrifice of the Turks who were at Gallipoli defending their homeland.

So at dawn ceremonies like this one all around the world Australians and New Zealanders gather, not to glorify war, but rather to reflect on the contribution made by those who have fought in them, to our way of life today.

For it is surely the case that the life we enjoy today, and the freedom we enjoy today, was purchased at the cost of many lives of our countrymen. To borrow from another – this is the brutal arithmetic of war.

And we draw inspiration from those most precious human qualities which were so evident all those years ago – valour, honour, pride, determination, endurance, and responsibility to your mate standing at your shoulder.

These morning ceremonies are more than just a tribute to those who fought in the campaign at Gallipoli. They also acknowledge the sacrifices made by all those who have served Australia and New Zealand in times of war: the First and Second World Wars, and other conflicts, including here in Korea.

Our experience at ANZAC Cove, the subsequent fighting at Gallipoli, and our collective experience with wars since, is an important part of New Zealand’s and Australia’s heritage.

Through personal acts of courage, initiative and daring in the face of overwhelming odds a standard was set for both our countries: that when faced with injustice we would as nations do what is right – regardless of the resistance we meet or the fears we may hold.

97 years on, the ANZAC spirit remains strong.

The bond between our two countries is seen in the numerous military operations and exercises around the world where New Zealand Defence Force people continue today to stand shoulder to shoulder with their Australian counterparts.

Australia is our closest strategic partner. They are our closest mates. And in times of hardship and crisis, of tragedy and grief, we find that our trans-Tasman neighbour is a true and great friend.

Our ANZACs and all who have served our country will be held in our hearts and minds forever. Two and a half thousand years ago, Pericles said “…freedom is the sure possession only of those who have the courage to defend it.”

Today we recall those who had that courage.

I end with the simple refrain that holds as much meaning today as it did at the very first ANZAC Day services:

We will remember them.


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