A SOUTHSEA veteran will be the guest of honour when the Korean Navy arrives in Portsmouth next week.
George Batchelor, of Richmond Road, is one of a select few being invited to board a warship from the Republic of Korea when it docks at the city’s naval base on Tuesday.
The 83-year-old, who fought in the Korean War, said he was stunned to receive the prestigious invite.
He said: ‘I was amazed. I never expected to be part of this at all. It’s the icing on the cake. I’m really looking forward to the reception.’
George served 14 months in the Korean War as part of the 1st Royal Tank Regiment.
However, his family has a long line of military service.
His grandfather and great-uncle both served during the First World War. His father and uncle were also soldiers.
‘My grandad’s brother was wounded seven times in the First World War,’ he added.
‘But after each injury he always went back until he was eventually gassed.’
George joined the Army as a regular solider in 1948, at the age of 17.
In 1952 he then volunteered to join troops heading to fight in Korea.
The conflict itself is often known as the ‘forgotten war’.
However, for George, the memories of fighting through the war-torn nation are as fresh now as they were more than 60 years ago.
‘It was horrible – it was much like the First World War,’ he recounted.
‘We were dug in with the forward company of the infantry. We offered fire support for them, got them out of trouble when they needed it and shot up whatever they wanted shot up.’
During his tour, he visited the now-South Korean capital of Seoul.
‘The city was a mess. I remember going through it. We didn’t get to see much civilisation out there,’ he said.
George left Korea just before Christmas, in 1953, leaving the Army in 1954.
He returned to Korea for the first time since the war last year and was amazed at how it had changed.
‘It really is a beautiful country now with some very friendly people,’ he added.
About 100,000 British troops fought during the conflict. Of this, 1,078 UK troops were killed, alongside about 37,000 US soldiers.
Two warships from the Republic of Korea will be visiting Portsmouth until Friday.
Korean sailors will visit HMS Collingwood to see how the UK trains weapons engineers and tour Type 23 HMS Westminster.