This page was written on 09 January 2018
The recent North Korean nuclear weapons tests have been stirring worrying memories for those of my age and, potentially, have alarming implications for those who are much younger than I, whether they realise it or not. The Korean War broke out in June 1950 and, strictly speaking, never ended. The world is holding its breath as delegations from North and South Korea are facing each other across the table in Panmunjom in what seems like an amicable discussion.
Comments about the Korean war started to appear regularly in my schoolboy diaries. By then, my school friends and I could place Korea accurately on world maps. We knew all about the 38th Parallel, the line of latitude which started to mark the division between what became North and South Korea. We were all transfixed by General Douglas MacArthur’s genius stroke of landing, from the sea, large numbers of troops behind the enemy lines at Inchon in mid-September 1950 - a classic pincer movement. I collected the maps and diagrams published in national newspapers and watched the war’s progress on an almost daily basis.
Above: That is my diary entry for 24 May 1951
Just as it looked as though the United Nations force might be about to claim victory, the Chinese intervened but it was over two years more before my diary, on 27 July 1953, recorded what we all thought would finally be the end of the Korean War. The number 1304 at the top, left-hand corner of that diary page (below) indicates that this was the 1,304th consecutive daily entry in my diary.
The United States Air Force apparently had made preparations in the early 1950s to use nuclear weapons to resolve what had begun to look like a stalemate but, fortunately, it never came to that.
Soon after I joined the RAF V Bomber force in 1960 (this page), the film The Manchurian Candidate was released. I remember going in a gaggle of officers from RAF Finningley to see it in Doncaster and we were all horrified. We had already learned about brainwashing and the sort of treatment we could expect if we ever became prisoners of the Soviet Union or China. In 1980 I was posted to the Joint Services Interrogation Wing as the Senior RAF Instructor and now I had to teach not only Resistance to Interrogation but also, to selected Special Forces, how to be an effective interrogator without infringing the Geneva Conventions on the Treatment of Prisoners of War. (see this page).
In 2017, the world, well most of it, was outraged at North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests. Once again, all eyes turned towards China to see how that nation would react - but it didn't react as far as I can tell.. Now, at last, perhaps the real end is in sight.