Scottish Korean Veterans’ Association disbands

Korean War Memorial at Witch Craig Wood, Torphichen
Korean War Memorial at Witch Craig Wood, Torphichen

A veterans association formed 19 years ago by battle hardened soldiers who fought in the Korean War has laid up its colours.

The Lothian and West of Scotland branch of the British Korean Veterans Association (BKVA) finally decided to disband through dwindling numbers, due primarily to age and infirmity.

The group saw their Veteran’s Association flag ‘‘laid up’’ after a service in St John’s Church, Bathgate’ on Sunday, November 30.

When the group was originally founded, there were 80 members but recently this has dropped to around 20 able to attend meetings.

The average age of these brave individuals, who have only recently received recognition for their exploits, is around 80.

Scotland Office minister David Mundell said the war veterans were held in “high esteem” by the UK Government when he visited the Scottish Korean War Memorial in February.

Joined by representatives of HM Armed Forces, the British Korean Veterans’ Association, the Lord Provost and the leader of West Lothian Council, Mr Mundell presented Major (Ret.) Allan Cameron, chairman of the Lothian and West of Scotland Branch of the BKVA, with a letter from the Prime Minister to congratulate the Korean War Memorial committee on erecting the memorial in the hills near Bathgate.

John Cumming, branch secretary, said: “Finally having received recognition from the UK Government, along with the unveiling and dedication of a new memorial in London to honour our colleagues, the local branch had to make a decision whether we could continue with the falling number of members.

“Unlike other associations, as our members die off, there are none following behind filling in the space.”

The memorial, which takes the form of a traditional Korean pagoda and features specially imported carved slate roof tiles, is located in a peaceful woodland setting in the Bathgate hills – an appropriate place of remembrance for those who lost their lives in the ‘‘forgotten war’’.

A board of trustees has been formed, consisting of two members of the defunct Association, two members of West Lothian Council and two members of the British Legion, to oversee the memorial’s upkeep.

The council has agreed, after meeting with the other four trustees, to take over the upkeep and maintenance of the memorial. It is already responsible for other war memorials in West Lothian.

Scottish troops, as part of the British contingent, joined a United Nations allied force after North Korea invaded South Korea in June 1950.