Online Library of Selected Images:
-- EVENTS - The Korean War, 1950-1953

United Nations and Republic of Korea Forces
Overview and Special Image Selection


For all but the first few days of the Korean War, the United Nations provided crucial military help to sustain the Republic of Korea (ROK) in its struggle against armed aggression from the north. Of the combatant UN states, the United States provided by far the vast majority of forces on land, sea and air. However, by the conflict's end there were more ROK ground troops in the battle line than those of all other nations combined. The most senior UN commanders were always Americans, though some flag and general officers from other countries held important subordinate operational posts.

Ultimately, fifteen other UN members sent armed forces to participate in the conflict. First into action, and always providing the greatest total numbers, were the British and other members of the Commonwealth, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa. A Royal Navy or Australian light fleet carrier was generally present, along with one or two RN light cruisers and several UK/Commonwealth destroyers and frigates. British and Commonwealth ground and air forces were also numerous and in the fight early, with the land contingent building up to division strength. Royal Marine Commandos provided UN commanders with a distinctive, and extensively used, coastal raiding force. The British and Commonwealth countries, given the size of their contribution, also used their own aircraft, weapons and equipment, unlike the other UN forces, which mostly had U.S. weapons and materiel.

Other nations providing forces included brigade or regimental size ground elements from Turkey, Thailand and the Philippines. Belgium, Columbia, Ethopia, France, Greece and The Netherlands sent battalions and little Luxembourg contributed a company. Some of these countries also were represented by small numbers of warships, often former U.S. Navy vessels, and by aircraft. Denmark, India, Italy, Norway and Sweden had medical units in the combat zone. The contribution of the Japanese, still under Allied occupation when the Korean War began, included many invaluable LSTs and inshore minesweepers, plus a significant contingent of merchant ships, stevedores and other hired support personnel in and around Korea, plus the extensive base system in the Japanese home islands.

The Republic of Korea Navy fought hard from the beginning of North Korea's invasion, scoring some very significant successes against enemy efforts to land troops behind UN lines. ROK minesweepers were active throughout the war, helping open ports and keeping coastal waters clear for logistics and gunnery ships. Through the war, the ROK Navy steadily grew as more personnel were trained. The United States transferred five frigates (PF) to Korea, plus many smaller patrol ships, landing vessels and minecraft. The ROK's ground forces and its small air force were also intensively developed, reaching a point where they could be counted as the equal in many ways to the best from abroad.

This page features, and provides links to, images related to the armed forces of the Republic of Korea and of the UN states involved in the Korean War, other than those from the United States.

Broader pictorial coverage of the contributions of other United Nations members, and of the Republic of Korea:

  • British and Commonwealth Forces
  • Other United Nations Forces
  • Republic of Korea Forces
  • Japanese Contributions
  • A precis of our Korean War images, and links to more comprehensive pictorial coverage of that conflict:

  • The Korean War, June 1950 - July 1953 - Introductory Overview and Special Image Selection

  • Click the photograph to prompt a larger view

    Photo #: NH 97167

    The Flag of the United Nations


    "The official flag of the United Nations, now flying with national banners over the U.N. armed forces in action to restore the peace in Korea, is shown in this photograph. The background color of the flag is the light blue associated with the U.N. since its early days, while the official United Nations seal in its center is in white." (Quoted from the original caption)
    Photograph is datelined New York, 1950.

    United Nations' Photograph, from the "All Hands" collection at the Naval History & Heritage Command.

    Online Image: 109KB; 740 x 620 pixels

     
    Photo #: NH 97070

    United Nations Cemetary, Pusan, Korea


    Two sailors from USS Toledo (CA-133) pay their respects at the American plot in the UN Cemetary.
    The men are Engineman 3rd Class James E. Gover and Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class Ralph H. Miller.
    This photograph was released by Commander Naval Forces Far East, under date of 19 October 1951.

    Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the "All Hands" collection at the Naval History & Heritage Command.

    Online Image: 120KB; 600 x 765 pixels

     
    Photo #: NH 97046

    Destroyers of British Commonwealth Navies


    Tied to a mooring bouy at a southern Japanese port (presumably Sasebo), after "an extended period of operations in Korean waters", circa May 1951.
    The ships are (from left):
    HMAS Warramunga (Australian Destroyer, 1942);
    HMCS Nootka (Canadian Destroyer, 1946) and
    HMS Cockade (British Destroyer, 1945).
    All three are assigned to the United Nations Blockading and Escort Force, commanded Rear Admiral Allan E. Smith, USN.
    This photograph was released by Commander, Naval Forces Far East on 19 May 1951.

    Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the "All Hands" collection at the Naval History & Heritage Command.

    Online Image: 156KB; 740 x 615 pixels

     
    Photo #: NH 97044

    Hawker "Sea Fury" Fighter


    Is catapulted from the British light fleet aircraft carrier HMS Glory, during Korean war operations circa June 1951.
    This photograph was released by Commander, Naval Forces Far East on 7 June 1951.
    This aircraft wears the number "VR-943".

    Official Royal Navy Photograph, from the "All Hands" collection at the Naval History & Heritage Command.

    Online Image: 115KB; 740 x 605 pixels

     
    Photo #: NH 97178

    Almirante Brion
    (Columbian Frigate, 1953. Formerly USS Burlington, PF-51)

    "New Columbian Frigate -- While a Navy band plays and the last group of American sailors prepares to disembark, Columbian crewmembers assemble before boarding their new ship, the patrol frigate Almirante Brion. The former USS Burlington (PF-51) was transferred from the United States Government to the Government of Columbia in ceremonies at the Yokosuka Naval Base on June 26, 1953."
    Photograph and caption were released by Commander Naval Forces, Far East, under date of 2 July 1953.

    Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the "All Hands" collection at the Naval History & Heritage Command.

    Online Image: 163KB; 740 x 620 pixels

     
    Photo #: NH 97048

    "The ROKs Have a Fighting Navy"


    "The Republic of Korea has a Navy of approximately 50 ships and ten thousand officers and men. Whatever the ROKs lack in numbers they more than make up for in fighting spirit. To the ROKs falls the lion's share of the close-inshore patrol and blockade of the long Korean coastline, a job that calls for their shallow draft craft and their aggressive sailors. Commando and behind-the-lines operations are a day in and day out job of the ROK Navy and Marine Corps. Patterned after U.S. Navy organization, the ROK Navy - man for man and ship for ship - compares favorably with any in the world."
    "Typical of the ROK Navy man is Hyun Moo Sup, gunner's mate first class, now on duty at the Chinhae naval reservation training other gunner's mate strikers."
    This photograph and caption were released by Commander, Naval Forces Far East under date of 18 June 1951.

    Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the "All Hands" collection at the Naval History & Heritage Command.

    Online Image: 92KB; 590 x 765 pixels

     
    Photo #: NH 97150

    "Republic of Korea Navy Service Schools"


    "Chief Boatswain's mate Joe E. Brewer, USN, ... shows these interested looking ROK sailors the workings of block and tackle -- all part of seamanship."
    "Chief Brewer is the Advisor at the Boatswain's mate school."
    Photograph and caption were released by Commander Naval Forces, Far East, under date of 27 February 1952.
    The sailors' cap ribbons read (in translation): "Republic of Korea Navy". The two bands in right-center read from left to right. That at far right reads from right to left.

    Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the "All Hands" collection at the Naval History & Heritage Command.

    Online Image: 95KB; 740 x 615 pixels

     
    Photo #: 80-G-K-14194 (Color)

    Operation "Fishnet", Korea, 1952

    A Republic of Korea Navy officer and a U.S. Navy Underwater Demolition Team officer question a captured North Korean fisherman about the location of fishing nets off the enemy coast. They are part of Operation "Fishnet", intended to reduce Communist forces' food supplies by destroying North Korean fishing nets.
    Photograph is dated 16 September 1952.

    Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

    Online Image: 96KB; 740 x 540 pixels

    Reproductions may also be available through the National Archives.

     
    Photo #: 80-G-442097

    Syngman Rhee
    ,
    President of the Republic of Korea, (left)

    Presents the ROK Order of Military Merit (Taiguk), to Rear Admiral Ralph A. Ofstie, USN, Commander Task Force 77, in ceremonies at the Presidential residence in Pusan, Korea.
    Also present, in center, is the ROK Chief of Naval Operations, Vice Admiral Sohn Won Il.
    Photo is dated 13 May 1952.

    Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

    Online Image: 97KB; 740 x 620 pixels

    Reproductions may also be available through the National Archives.

     



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