November 11, 2009 The Korea Times/Korean War Vet’s Daughter Makes Emotional 1st Visit to Battle Scene
- Date2009-11-12 12:23:26
Korean War Vet’s Daughter Makes Emotional 1st Visit to Battle Scene
Bridget Temple of Britain is pictured Saturday at the Imjin River, the scene of a bloody battle during the Korean War when British soldiers, outmanned nearly seven-to-one, fought bravely in an attempt to overpower the enemy forces. Temple’s father, Guy, won the British military award, the Military Cross, for the part he played in the episode, known as the “Battle of the Imjin River.” / Courtesy of Bridget Templ.
By Bryan Kay
The daughter of a British Korean War hero made an emotional first visit to the scene where her father led a daring assault against Chinese forces during the conflict.
Inspired by a book written by Seoul-based British author Andrew Salmon, Bridget Temple made her way to the site of the ``Battle of the Imjin River,'' where Guy Temple, faced with Chinese soldiers who outnumbered the British almost seven-to-one, spearheaded an ambush that eventually forced the British into a retreat and saw him taken prisoner.
It was while reading ``To the Last Round: The Epic British Stand on the Imjin River, Korea 1951''that she finally decided to come to the Far East to see the place where her father fought and won the Military Cross, a British award given for gallantry and meritorious service.
Arriving last Friday, Temple took a guided tour around the scene with Salmon, who remarked earlier this year during the launch for his book that it is a largely forgotten tragedy in the annals of British military history. As well as touring the site of the battle, she also took in the surrounding landmarks.
``The Last Round'' focuses on the British army units involved in the Battle of the Imjin River ― considered the bloodiest action seen by British forces since World War II ― and it takes a particular look at the struggles of Temple's regiment, the 1st Battalion, the Gloucestershire Regiment, more commonly known as the Glosters.
Temple first arrived in Korea in 1950 as winter set in. By the following April, he faced the advancing Chinese.
The Imjin River was the setting for the notorious battle, where some 4,000 British troops were up against 27,000 Chinese.
That concluded with Temple being taken prisoner, after which he endured a two-and-a-half-year stint at a prison camp in North Korea known locally as ``Park's Palace.''
Bridget Temple also took in Castle Hill, the scene of an intense stand-off between the British and the Chinese, and Gloster Hill, the place of her father's defeat and where he was
During the tour, she told The Korea Times that one of the most striking aspects of her visit was how different the reality of the scene was compared to how she had imagined it would be.
``It is hard to imagine (what happened here),'' said Temple, as she surveyed the battlefield, trying to picture the scenes that took place nearly 60 years ago. ``I wasn't expecting it to be so built up. I wasn't expecting all the blue roofs,'' she added, referring to the use of the blue corrugated iron roofing that riddles the roofs of buildings in the countryside setting.
``He must have seen some very, very horrific sites,'' she said, as Salmon explained the savage nature of the clashes.
Temple, educated in England, but who has lived most of her childhood on army bases around the world, now resides in France ― where she spends her time when not traveling for her work in managerial consulting.
In her youth, Temple said that she had not known much about her father's experience prior to the release of Salmon's book.
``Andy's book made it possible to talk about it,'' she said. ``When the book came out I could ask him informed questions.''
The fact that her father had not been able to see her come to Korea was hard for her, explained Temple, but the fact he knew she was planning to make the journey was satisfaction enough. Temple, Sr., passed away in September at the age of 80.
Salmon said he wrote the book in a bid to shine a light on a story he believes had been neglected.
``The Korean War just never really grabbed the public attention. It really is the forgotten war,'' said Salmon.
Temple, who feels Salmon's book had gone some way to doing so, said, ``(Korea) should be put back on the map.''
Here for only a week, Temple has decided to experience as much culture as possible during her visit, and plans a few days to see Gyeongju and Busan having already taken in Seoul.
Korea Times intern JR Breen contributed reporting to this article.