Korean War memorial service on Sunday

Korean War veteran Tom Blake (left) with Bega RSL sub branch president Barry Stoney.

Korean War veteran Tom Blake (left) with Bega RSL sub branch president Barry Stoney.

A MEMORIAL ceremony commemorating the Korean War will be held in Bega this weekend for people to pay their respects to those who served.

The war began on June 25, 1950, and over the course of the three years 17,000 Australians served - 340 of them were killed.

The service will be held on the same date 61 years after armistice was declared - July 27, 1953. 

Bega Valley resident Tom Blake served in the Korean War as an able seaman first class in the British Royal Navy, on board the HMAS Jamaica. 

On June 20, 1950, the Jamaica was sent to join the US Seventh Fleet in the Sea of Japan, where they had one mission – to seek and destroy anything of the enemy they saw. 

The crew covers the decks of the HMAS Jamaica, leaving Hong Kong in 1949.

The crew covers the decks of the HMAS Jamaica, leaving Hong Kong in 1949.

The HMAS Jamaica would bombard roads and bridges to stop the convoys of troops, tanks and supplies travelling south. 

They were on constant patrols along the east coast of Korea where they were in high demand by their allies who wanted assistance in stopping the enemy’s tanks by destroying the roads.

During 1950, a day after the HMAS Jamaica had ceased a bombardment of the enemy’s infrastructure at Pyongyang, they were surprised by a convoy of tanks and coastal artillery. 

Seven soldiers who were sitting off duty in the back end of the ship were killed as well as one seaman, and all were given a sea burial.

When the HMAS Jamaica was at Inchon, three aircraft appeared and began to bomb the US fleet, which couldn’t return fire as they were parked too closely, so Mr Blake’s ship shot the three planes down.

Unfortunately one of the youngest members on his ship was killed in the engagement. 

One of the greatest atrocities Mr Blake saw in the war was how the North Koreans would tie together rafts of South Korean men, women and children, then set them adrift along the coast.

As the bodies were booby trapped, all Mr Blake’s ship could do was log their position to let patrol boats know they were there. 

Mr Blake immigrated to Australia in 1964, and has lived in Bega for the last 24 years.

“The only thing I’m vexed about now is the way service personnel have been treated,” he said.

The commemorative service is informal and to be held at the Memorial Gates in Bega from 11am on Sunday.

All are welcome. 

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop