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Korea Medal 2 July 1950 to 10 June 1953

The laureated bust of Elizabeth II facing right, surrounded by an inscription: “ELIZABETH II DEI GRA: BRITT: OMN: REGINA F: D:+” (first issue) or “ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA F: D:+ (second issue).  Those to the Canadian forces have the word “CANADA” beneath the bust.

The figure of Hercules with a dagger in his right hand, and his left arm and leg outstretched holding off Hydra.  Below is the word “KOREA”.

Approximately 36 mm in diameter

The medal is of cupro-nickel.

Approximately 31 mm wide.  Of yellow, blue, yellow, blue, yellow, stripes all of equal width.   The blue is United Nations’ blue.  A bronze oak leaf emblem is worn on the ribbon by those who were Mentioned in Dispatches for services in Korea.

The ribbon passes through a plain straight, fixed suspender.

The recipients number, rank, initials, surname and unit are impressed on the edge in thin capitals.

None issued.

To personnel of the Royal Navy, The Army, The Royal Air Force and the various Commonwealth forces, and members of numerous civilian supporting organisations who served in Korea between the dates given above.  Qualification for the award varied between the different services, but for the Army it was either one day on the strength of a unit serving  in Korea or, for those who were on official visits a total of thirty days in Korea.  (Service in Japan did not count towards the thirty days.)

The Korean War resulted from the crossing of the 38th Parallel and invasion of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) by the forces of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (North Korea) on 25th June 1950.  The South, which had no air force and only an untrained and lightly-armed army, was no match for the North, backed by the Soviet Union, and the United Nations called for the raising of a multi-national force in support of the South.  The force, lead by the American General Douglas MacArthur, was the first of its kind to operate under the flag of the United Nations.  The British Government, although initially reluctant to participate, eventually provided a force which was second only in size to that of the USA among those nations supporting South Korea, and suffered over one thousand dead and over 2 300 wounded in the conflict.  Although hostilities ceased on 27th July 1953 British troops serving in Korea in a peace keeping role beyond that date up until 24th July 1954 also qualified for the United Nations medal for Korea.

The King’s Own
Only nineteen infantry and cavalry regiments of the British Army were recognised as eligible for the battle-honour “Korea 1950-1953”, but most regiments and corps were represented in the conflict, the infantry and cavalry which did not go as a unit providing drafts to bring up to strength those which did go as a unit.  Draft finding was organised by linking infantry regiments in groups, and a serving unit in a group was reinforced by drafts of men from the other regiments in the group.  The policy was for medals awarded to the drafted men to be named to their own regiment and not to the regiment with which they served in Korea.

The 1st Battalion The King’s Own Royal Regiment (Lancaster) did not serve as a unit in Korea during the hostilities, but provided drafts of men who served with The Royal Ulster Rifles, The Gloucestershire Regiment, The Welch Regiment and The King’s Regiment (Liverpool).  Those men were awarded the Korea Medal and the medals were named to them as “King’s Own”.

Korea Medals in the museum's collection


© 2007 Trustees of the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum