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Was New Zealand's role in Korea beneficial?

Originally published under Ask Mr. History. Published Online: November 20, 2012 
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To what extent was New Zealand involvement in Korea beneficial?

And where would I go to source evidence of this?

Tom Lafont

? ? ?

Dear Mr. Lafont,  

New Zealand played at least a proportionate role in the Korean War, starting with its commitment, on June 29, 1950, of the frigates Tutira and Pukaki to the naval contingent there. Four further frigatesRouiti, Hawer, Taupo and Kanieriwere added later, with two always on station throughout New Zealand's participation. Two of them ventured up the inner Han River estuary to support to taking of Seoul in September 1950, during which the Royal New Zealand Navy suffered its only combat death.  

On July 26, 1950 the New Zealand Parliament authorized a force of volunteers to serve in Korea, from which 1,044 were selected, including the 16th Field Artillery Regiment, which got a Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation for its performance, especially at Kapyong. With their army units attached to the British Infantry Brigade from January 21, 1951 onward, ultimately 4,700 New Zealanders served in Korea (1,300 of whom were naval personnel), with 33 killed in action, 12 killed from other causes, and 79 wounded in action. Additionally Graham Garland was taken prisoner and spent 18 months in captivity before he was released after the war.

Another New Zealander flying Gloster Meteors in No. 77 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, Sergeant Vance Drummond, was shot down by a MiG-15bis over Pyongyang on December 1, 1951 and held prisoner for the duration of the war. The last New Zealand troops were not withdrawn from the DMZ until 1957. New Zealand was also called upon to supply wool for American uniforms and milk for the UN troops, causing its sheep population to more than double and its dairy industry to change from small farms to an emphasis on industrial-scale output.  

Further details can be found in the sites included below:

New Zealand History Online:  New Zealand in the Korean War   

Wings Over New Zealand Aviation Forum: A Kiwi in RAAF: Vance Drummond  



Jon Guttman
Research Director
Weider History Group
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