Thursday, June 13, 2024

This is an ARCHIVED article at Information and links may well be out of date.

In a meticulous search after receiving information from a local, South Korean soldiers have unearthed human remains which could be those of a member of the Gloucestershire regiment who fought in the Imjin battle in 1951.

According to a report by BBC News Gloucestershire, local military began digging in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) after an elderly local man said he had seen a European soldier being buried there 60 years ago.

The eyewitness claims to have been told at the time of the burial that the soldier was from the Gloucestershire regiment.

The remains have already been examined by the South Koreans, and initial findings suggest the soldier is Caucasian.

It is known that as well as British soldiers, Belgian forces fought in the region at the Battle of the Imjin River in 1951.

Tests are now being carried out by the UK's Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC) to see if the soldier is British. The story does not say whether there is thought to be any possibility of individual identifcation by DNA.

Sue Raftree, of the JCCC based at RAF Innsworth in Gloucester, which is part of the MOD's Service Personnel and Veterans Agency (SPVA), told BBC Gloucestershire that it was too early to say for certain if the soldier was British.

Sue Raftree said if the remains did turn out to be those of a British soldier then the body would normally be buried in South Korea.

"Our policy is that from the 1960s we did repatriate," she said.

"Prior to that we would bury in the country where they died, and therefore they would be buried in [the United Nations Memorial Cemetery] in Busan.

"If the family decided exceptionally that they wanted them to come back then we would look at that on a case by case basis, but we would always suggest that they are buried with their comrades where they fell together and are buried together."

It is understood that in the unique circumstances of the Imjin battle a list of missing soldiers from the Gloucestershire regiment was never officially compiled, so identifying the soldier and any living relatives could prove to be tricky.

"We've still got a lot of work to do," Ms Raftree told the BBC. "Whether he's an unknown or a member of a regiment, it is very difficult."

The JCCC is currently trying to identify about 40 remains of British soldiers found in different parts of the world.

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