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The Korean War
The Korean War


HMS Belfast firing a salvo at shore targets off Korea in 1951.
HMS Belfast firing a salvo at shore targets off Korea in 1951. She subsequently fired so many salvoes that she wore out her 6-inch guns. (IWM neg A32031)

At the end of the Second World War, the ancient kingdom of Korea was split between a hard-line Communist regime in the north and a western-style government, supported by the United States, in the south. On 25 June 1950, the North Korean People's Army invaded South Korea.

The United Nations Security Council voted to give aid to the South and, after halting the North Koreans around the port of Pusan, UN forces landed behind enemy lines at Inchon and quickly overran most of the country. 

In October 1950, however, Communist China entered the war and thousands of 'People's Volunteers' - six full armies - crossed into North Korea. 

UN troops were forced to retreat and by the summer of 1951, both sides had settled down to a lengthy war of attrition along the line of the 38th Parallel. After two years of negotiations, the Korean War came to an end on 17 July 1953.

Ratings celebrating Christmas 1951
Ratings celebrating Christmas in Number 20 Mess on board HMS Belfast in 1951. (IWM neg HU 36593)
HMS Belfast was amongst the very first British ships to go into action off Korea, bombarding in support of retreating South Korean and American troops only eleven days after the North Korean invasion.

Her service in the Korean War, during which she spent no less than 404 days on active patrol, was as long and arduous as that with the Home Fleet during the Second World War.

On 27 September 1952, she sailed for home, having fired her guns in anger for the last time.