British Korean War vet to be buried in Busan

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British Korean War vet to be buried in Busan


Photos of British Korean War hero William Speakman provided by the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs. [YONHAP]

The remains of a British hero of the Korean War will arrive in South Korea next week for burial at a United Nations (UN) cemetery in Busan, a southern port city, the government here said Friday.

The Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs said the remains of the late William Speakman will arrive at Incheon International Airport Monday afternoon ahead of his burial at the UN Memorial Cemetery in Busan the following day.

Speakman, dubbed a Korean War hero for his brave hand-to-hand combat against advancing Chinese troops, died in Britain last year at age 90.

The ministry said Speakman’s remains will be transferred to Busan in accordance with his wish to be buried on Korean soil. Four members of his family will travel to South Korea with his remains, it noted. Speakman will be the seventh Korean War veteran from the UN allied forces to be buried at Busan’s UN cemetery after dying in their home country.

Soon after his remains arrive at the Incheon airport around 4 p.m. Monday, the government is to hold a ceremony marking the return of the British hero, with the attendance of Minister of Patriots and Veterans Affairs Pi Woo-jin, Britain’s ambassador to Seoul and Speakman’s relatives.

Speakman’s remains will be moved to Busan’s UN Memorial Cemetery Tuesday after spending one night at the Seoul National Cemetery.

President Moon Jae-in earlier instructed the ministry to pay extraordinary attention to the burial of the British war hero and to the temporary stay of his family in South Korea, it said.

Speakman received the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award of the British honors system, for his bravery during the 1950-53 Korean War. The British government even named a building and a bridge in his hometown of Manchester after him.

During a battle on Mount Maryang at the mouth of the Imjin River in November 1951, Speakman displayed bravery and courage that earned him his fame. Speakman, 24 years old at that time, held off advancing Chinese troops by throwing dozens of grenades and engaging in hand-to-hand fights for more than four hours until British troops could withdraw safely. Speakman sustained a serious leg injury during the combat.

He was transferred to Britain in January 1952 but volunteered to return to Korea three months later.

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