A MAN whose brother died in the Korean War, has thanked the Korean government for its ‘touching gift’ of face masks to veterans and their families.

Bert Davey, Secretary of the Swindon and Wiltshire Branch of the British Korean War Veterans' Association received his mask as part of the gift sent out to all members as well as widows and other bereaved family members.

“This is typical of the South Korean government”, he said.

“They have never forgotten what veterans from the 21 countries did coming to their aid in 1950 when the war started, and over the years their generosity and gratitude towards war veterans has been quite extraordinary.”

June 25 will be the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War in which 1,078 UK service men were killed, 2,674 wounded and 1,060 held prisoner for two years.

Many of the events to mark the occasion have beeen cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Bert was 13 years old when he lost his brother Tom in 1951, who was completing his national service with the Kings Shropshire Light Infantry.

“My brother Tom was 21 and initially he had been in Hong Kong for over a year as part of his national service,” said Bert.

“He was due to come home when the government added six months to national service. He should have been demobbed from the army on June 6 1951, but the added time meant that he went to South Korea and three weeks later he was killed on June 2.”

Tom’s platoon was crossing the Imjin River when they were attacked. Tom died the following day.

“Losing a brother was very difficult to accept,” said Bert.

“Partly because you had no idea where Korea was in the first place. In 1951 Korea could have been on another planet. So for my parents and our family, accepting that something had happened in country, in a far off land on the other side of the world was very difficult.”

Casualties were not repatriated and Bert didn’t visit Tom’s grave in the United Nations cemetery in Busan until 50 years later.

He said: “South Korean children visit the cemetery every month and place flowers on the graves, and this is still happening 70 years later.

“Our veterans refer to the Korean War as the forgotten war, because it didn’t get much coverage at the time, and people don’t really know about it now.

“But it has never been forgotten by the South Korean government. And with the gift of these masks, it’s just another token of respect in which Korean War veterans are held.”

Bert said: “It’s just an incredible gesture from a country on the other side of the world that they are remembering us. it’s a very very touching gift to receive.”