At the request of the United Nations the Government of the Kingdom of Belgium sent an infantry battalion to support the Republic of Korea. Belgium had recently experienced two military occupations on its soil and did not want to refuse assistance to a people that was suffering a similar ordeal. Since Belgian conscripts could not be sent on overseas operations, the Government decided to establish an infantry battalion exclusively with volunteers.
Several thousand volunteers applied to join the battalion and 2,000 made the cut. Seven hundred volunteers completed intense training alongside a platoon of volunteers from Luxembourg. The Luxembourgers were organized into 1st
Platoon A Company of the Belgian United Nations Command and together they arrived in Busan on January 31, 1951.
South Korean soldiers were made part of the Belgian contingent to bring up their battalion strength. The Belgian-Luxembourgish Battalion was assigned to 29th
Gloucestershire Regiment of the United Kingdom. After the battles at the Imjin River they were reassigned to the 7th
Infantry Regiment of the 3rd
U.S. Division, where it remained until September 1955.
The battalion earned a reputation throughout as gallant soldiers. They fought in a number of offensive operations including the Battle of the Imjin River in April 1951. For their actions the Belgians were awarded a U.S. Presidential Unit Citation. They received several citations for their actions at Haktang-Ni in October 1951 and in the Battle of Chatkol in April 1953, including a U.S. and South Korean citation.
A total of 3,172 Belgians participated in the Korean War. Almost 700 of them voluntarily returned for a second time, and 19 a third time. The respect for this small battalion is still evident today as all Belgian infantry units replaced their khaki cap with the dark brown ‘Korea beret’ worn during the Korean War.
The Belgian Battalion lost 106 troops killed in action, two Luxembourgers, and 9 Korean soldiers. Three-hundred-fifty-eight were wounded during the war.
The Belgian troops remained in Korea until June 1955.