The following is the text of the annual report of the British Korean Veterans Association, as presented to the AGM of the newly-named British Korean Society. This is likely to be the last such report, for reasons which will become apparent as you read the following paragraphs.
Chairman’s Report to the AGM of the Anglo-Korean Society held at the Korean Cultural Centre on Thursday 20 March 2014.
1. I am pleased to be able to attend this meeting to present the report of the BKVA which covers the period from 20 March 2013 to today’s date. Sadly, this is probably the last time I shall attend as you are no doubt aware the BKVA is to be disbanded this year following the erection of the Korean War Memorial in October and the laying-up of our standards, we hope, in York Minister.
2. The event which took place on 5 November, the ground breaking ceremony by the South Korean President, Her Excellency Park Geun-hye, was well covered in your chairman, Mr Warwick Morris’s, article, in the recently issued A-KS Newsletter.
3. The first of these was on 5 July a Wreath Laying ceremony at St Paul’s Cathedral where we were able to meet the new ambassador, HE Mr Sungnam Lim, who later hosted a lunch for our President, the Korean Liaison Officer and me … most relaxing and enjoyable.
4. The following week on 11 July we had our “big day”. The Government sponsored commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the cease-fire in the Korean War which took the form of:
a. Form up on Horse Guards Parade
b. March to Westminster Abbey
c. A Thanksgiving Service at the Abbey during which:
(i) Major General Swindells delivered the address
(ii) HE Sungman Lim, the Korean Ambassador, read the Presidential Message from HE Park Geun Hye, the President of the Republic of Korea.
(iii) The Act of Rededication was given by The Reverend Johnathan Woodhouse QHC the Chaplain General.
d. Reception in the Abbey Gardens.
5. It was a good day; the weather was kind to us; HRH The Duke of Gloucester was in attendance throughout and we enjoyed the music of the band of the Royal Artillery … though they were a little fast for us in the march to the Abbey … they had to be restrained.
6. This function was followed on 27 July by the BKVA Korean War Commemoration Day.
(i) The service was conducted by the Chaplain General, the Reverend Johnathan Woodhouse QHC
(ii) The members formed up for the March Past and we were joined by a Korean Military Contingent bearing colours.
(iii) The salute was taken by the ambassador, HE Mr Sungnam Lim and Major General GMG Swindells CB. Mr Warwick Morris and the Defence Attaché, Captain (Navy) Park, Ju-Hyeon, were in attendance.
(iv) Wreaths were laid at the BKVA Memorial Garden.
(v) The dedication of a seat in memory of Frank Ellison OBE, BEM, JP, our former General Secretary and the dedication of a tree in memory our former chaplain, The Venerable David Brierley were carried out by the Chaplain General.
(vi) Lunch followed.
7. The AGM of the BKVA took place on Saturday 19 October; it was preceded by an EGM at which the membership decided overwhelmingly to disband the BKVA during this coming year, 2014. The disbandment had been at the recommendation of the BKVA Executive Committee (At this point I read my letter dated 7 January 2014: You will note that the current members of the Executive Committee and the Trustees will remain in office until the National Standards are laid-up).
8. Our final parade of the year was the Remembrance Day Parade when we marched past the Cenotaph. We were unable to get the Royal British Legion to agree that we lead the parade but they did agree that we lead our column, F. The RBL decision resulted in there being only 80 of us on parade; but we gave a good account of ourselves, General Swindells and I led our contingent and we were joined by the Defence Attaché, Captain Park, and we have the photograph to prove it … the photograph was also published in the final publication of the Morning Calm, our journal.
IFKWVA: 9th General Assembly Meeting
9. I attended the General Assembly Meeting of the International Federation of Korean War Veterans Associations in my capacity as President, in Seoul, over the period 22-27 June.
10. The IFKWVA have accepted into their midst member countries who have no Korean War veterans in their membership and they have given them a vote in the affairs of the Association. They have agreed to continue on a “relative and friends” basis which means, in time, there will be no Korean War veterans remaining. Age, health, expense and other restrictions are against them. The Association – for which a new constitution will have to be written and accepted – will be diluted to such an extent that there will be no veterans of the Korean War as members. I ask myself; what is the point? So I resigned on the grounds that what will exist in the future will be an association devoid of veterans of the Korean War.
A “New National Organisation” – the BKWVA
11. This item is enclosed by inverted commas for a reason. The BKVA notes with regret the misleading and inaccurate statements made by what is to be a new national organization. I am one of the main targets, In my defence I can only say that I have been National Chairman of the BKVA since 1995 (I am in my nineteenth year in office) and in all that time nobody has come forward or been nominated to replace me.
12. I am not going to mention any names but will refer to those who have been appointed to office i.e. their committee members:
a. President Shown as a JP which is erroneous. b. Vice President Lives and is domiciled in America c. Trustee Was not in the Korean War: his regiment arrived too late. d. Trustee Not in the Korean War but uses the branch of which he is Secretary as a commemoration for his brother who was killed in Korea. e. Chairman and Overseas coordinator A member who was expelled from the BKVA because of his behaviour and comments made f. National Secretary Not known. g. National Treasurer Not known; subscription for new organizatian to a Post Box not an individual. h. National Membership Officer Known for his complaints. i. Korean Liaison Officer Not known; post awaiting acceptance. j. Welfare Officer To be appointed
13. A lot of the trouble has been caused by a Canadian whose wife works for the MPVA (in Seoul); I have it on good authority that he is not even a member of the Canadian KWVA.
14. Some of the BKVA membership have stated they will not join the new organization but will continue to meet, say on a monthly basis, as social clubs while the ability and will last.
15. I have enjoyed the association between the BKVA and the new British Korean Society as the A-KS will become known.
20 March 2014
G.M. GADD OBE
National Chairman BKVA
7th January 2014
To whom it may concern.
1 The BKVA is intending to close down after the new Memorial in London to the Korean War is dedicated and after the BKVA National Standards have been laid up. At the moment this appears to be likely towards the end of 2014. In the meanwhile, the Association is continuing with the National Executives and Trustees in office as previously.
2 The closing of ‘National’ has been discussed thoroughly during the last two years and is brought about by the age of members bringing inevitable Branch closures, declining support, increasing deaths and frailty. The plan had been discussed with members at Branch level and the final proposal was presented to an Extraordinary General Meeting in October 2013. It was carried by 77 votes to 22.
3 Branches that wish to continue may do so in whatever form they wish. Once the Branches that intend to continue are defined, a list will be made available including contact details, etc.
4. The BKVA has laid careful plans for the continuation of its important activities. These are:-
- The BKVA Memorial Garden at the National Memorial Arboretunm has been funded in perpetuity.
- The BKVA Welfare Fund. administered by The British Legion, has been strengthened by further funding.
- Arrangements have been made for our close links with the Korean Embassy and other bodies to be continued. This will also allow for continuing Branches to remain in contact.
- The Revisit programme will be continued.
- The Scholarship programme will be continued.
These will remain the offisial activities.
5. Contrary to some other Associations and because the BKVA was originally formed by Korean War Veterans, the BKVA Ordinary membership (Rule 6.l) consists of those who are holders of, or entitled to, the British Korean medal and/or United Nations Medal with clasp Korea, or who served with the subsequent British Forces Korea from July 1954 to July 1957.
Associate members have always been welcomed.
6. The Association notes with regret, the misleading and inaccurate statements made in what is stated to be a new national organisation. They confirm the BKVA remains the recognised Official UK Association until formal closure and that after closure the activities and relationships detailed in 4 above will continue.
Colonel GM Gadd OBE. Chairman, British Korean Veterans Association