Here is the text of the BKVA’s annual report, presented to the Anglo-Korean Society’s AGM yesterday.
CHAIRMANS REPORT TO THE AGM OF THE ANGLO-KOREAN SOCIETY HELD AT THE KOREAN CULTURAL CENTRE ON TUESDAY 29 MARCH 2011
1. I am pleased that I am able to attend this AGM to present the BKVA report for the year 2010 / 2011. We have had a very busy year as the period under report covers the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War.
2. Our membership decreases each year, as we have come to expect, and now stands at 3,372; a drop from the previous year of 119. We have of necessity, through a lack of volunteers from veterans, appointed two ladies to the National Executive:
a. Mrs Susan Hurst as the General Secretary, and
b. Mrs Charlotte O’Kane as the National Overseas Co-ordinator.
3. In both cases their husband is a veteran; they have settled in well to their appointments; they have been very busy and we have already reaped the benefits of their industry.
COMMEMORATIONS IN KOREA
4. 2010 marked the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War (25 June 1950) and the Korean peoples were again prolific in their expressions of gratitude for the part we veterans
played in the history of their country … which now seems so long ago … we may forget what we did … but the Koreans never will.
5. The Koreans, under the auspices of the Minister of Patriots and Veterans Affairs, arranged for representatives of those who participated in the war – from the 21 countries who went to their aid – to visit Korea to commemorate the specific stages of the war … the start; the landings at Incheon; the relief of Seoul and the part played by the air forces.
6. I was invited by the MPVA to represent the IFKWVA, in my capacity as President, at the ceremony which took place on 25 June 2010 at the Seoul Olympic Gymnasium. There were 6,000 in the audience and the highlight of the ceremony was the presentation by the President, His Excellency Lee Myung-bak, of a framed certificate to a representative of each of the 21 countries who fought in the war thanking them for their contribution.
7. The proceedings were opened by Minister KM Yong of the MPVA. I was invited to address the audience, and the Nation as the proceedings were broadcast by television; my theme was that we assisted in stopping the spread of communism but the development of Korea, as we know it today, was down to the spirit, determination and fortitude of the Korean people. The proceedings ended with an address by the President.
8. During the week I was in Korea I was able to join up with the BKVA party. We and those representing the Commonwealth Countries – Australia, Canada and New Zealand – were royally entertained by the British Ambassador, HE Martin Uden, at events which included a Queen’s Birthday Party in the grounds of his residence. HRH The Duke of Gloucester and many Korean dignitaries were present including HE Mr CHUN Yung-Woo a previous ambassador to London.
9. Again at the Ambassador’s invitation, we visited the United Nations Cemetery in Busan for a service of dedication where HRH The Duke of Gloucester unveiled the new British memorial. The service was followed by a reception at the Nurimaru APEC House, also in Busan.
COMMEMORATIONS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM
10. HE Mr CHOO Kyu Ho took up his appointment as Ambassador in February last year and very soon showed a keen interest in our affairs and has proved as much a friend and benefactor of our Association as the more active of his predecessors.
11. He, too, was involved in the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the start of the war and on 25 June he hosted:
(a) The annual Wreath Laying Ceremony at St Paul’s Cathedral, and then that evening,
(b) A reception for 100 members on board HMS Belfast, herself a veteran of the Korean War.
12. Regrettably, I was unable to attend either of these functions as, as you have heard, I was in Korea at the time.
13. I was able to attend the BKVA Korean War Commemoration Day on 27 July when the Ambassador delivered the address at our memorial service; inspected the “troops”; took the salute with General Swindells, our President, at the march past; chatted to our members at lunch after which he returned to London very impressed by our dedication and professionalism.
14. Ambassador CHOO in recent months arranged for a number of Korean artists to paint pictures which were subsequently auctioned. The proceeds of the auction, which amounted to a five figure sum, were very generously donated by the Koreans to the BKVA Welfare Fund. This gesture was also in thanks for services rendered some 60 years ago. We are most appreciative, the more so because our welfare needs are on the increase. As a matter of interest we have recently helped out one of our members who emigrated some years ago to New Zealand. His house was badly damaged in the recent earthquake in Christchurch and is uninhabitable.
15. I notice from the Chairman’s report in the last issue of the A-K Society newsletter that a small donation was paid to the GLOSTER museum for their new Imjin display. We are pleased of this recognition but I have to advise you that the National Executive of the BKVA made a conscious decision not to pay specific attention to the exploits of the GLOSTERS at this particular time for fear of causing upset elsewhere. You should remember that there were many more regiments, including infantry and cavalry, involved in other actions during the war as well as those of the support services.
16. The GLOSTERS’ exploits will be commemorated on 2nd April when:
a. The Rifles (into which regiment the GLOSTERS have been subsumed) are granted the freedom of the City of Gloucester.
b. Service of Commemoration is held in Gloucester Cathedral, and,
c. The Colonel Commandant of The Rifles hosts drinks and buffet luncheon.
17. I am unable to attend as I am committed elsewhere on that day, but General Swindells will “fly the flag” for the BKVA.
18. As far as I am aware every effort is being made to mark the anniversary of the Battle of the Imjin in an appropriate way in Korea in April and it is expected that the following will attend the ceremonies arranged:
Mr Peter Luff, MP; Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology
General O’Donoghue, previously Regimental Colonel of the GLOSTERS
The Band of The Rifles, and,
An Army Padre.
19. The visits of those named coincide with the annual revisit programme of our members so there should be a very good turnout for the commemoration of the Battle of the Imjin. The Defence Attache, Brigadier David Greenwood, has been, and I have no doubt will continue to be, very busy.
20. I am aware that others presenting their reports have been much more brief than I … so I will close now. We are getting older but we still have life in us yet and look forward to an active future for the BKVA for at least a few years.
21. I will be pleased to discuss the content of this report or take any questions you may have at some time during the evening.
G.M. GADD OBE
National Chairman BKVA
29 March 2011