Korean War: the Dutch contribution

On 3 July 1950, the Dutch government offered to provide the destroyer HNLMS Evertsen, stationed in Indonesia, for the UN operation in Korea. On 15 July 1950, Secretary-General Trygve Lie once again called upon the Dutch government.

The UN was in dire need of reinforcements in the form of infantry battalions. Bowing to immense pressure from the US, the cabinet agreed to provide an infantry unit made up of volunteers: the Netherlands Detachment United Nations (NDVN). 2 rifle companies, a support company and a headquarters and headquarters company were formed from these volunteers. Between a 100 and 300 Katusas (Korean Army Troops United States Army), also known as ROKS (Republic of Korea Soldiers), were assigned to the unit.

Role of the navy

The UN’s maritime forces were under the command of the commander of the American naval forces in the Far East. The successive Dutch ships were allocated a wide range of tasks. On average, each Dutch ship carried out 10 patrols, mainly along the west coast of Korea. The ships were also given the task of escorting a US or British aircraft carrier on a regular basis. The Dutch ships were also given the task of protecting the lines of communication and bombarding enemy troop concentrations, reinforcements and infrastructure.

Course of the ground war

The Korean ground war proceeded in roughly 3 phases. The first phase began on 25 June 1950 with the North Korean offensive and lasted until 31 December 1950. During that time, the fighting swept over the entire country. At the end of December 1950, the situation stabilised along a front line to the south of the 38th parallel. In the years that followed, the war would be fought mainly in this area. Nevertheless, there were still major front movements in the second phase of the war, in some cases with a depth of some 80 to 100 kilometres. During the third phase, from 10 July 1951 to the truce of 27 July 1953, the front ran approximately from the mouth of the Imjin river via Chorwon, Kumhwa and Mundungni to the east coast. There was still some movement in the front line, but it never moved more than 15 to 20 kilometres.

Dutch detachment

Generally speaking, the operational tasks of the NDVN were closely linked to the phase in which the Korean war found itself. Periods on the front were alternated with rest periods or periods in the regiment, division or corps reserve. The NDVN was officially disbanded on 15 December 1954 after returning to the Netherlands.