War Memorials Trust

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Royal Ulster Rifles Korea

Town or City: Belfast
Country: Northern Ireland
WMT Reference Number: WM2327

Value of grant: £2500.00
Type of memorial: Freestanding
Type of work: Relocation
Grant scheme: Small Grants Scheme
Year: 2008

UKNIWM reference number: 6601

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Royal Ulster Rifles Korea war memorial after relocation © Royal Ulster Rifles Association, 2008The Royal Ulster Rifles Korean War Memorial now stands in the gardens on the western side of Belfast City Hall, looking out on to Donegal Square West. It is a tapering obelisk of pink/grey polished granite, with a plinth of Ballymagrehan granite which stands on a base of Portland limestone. A bronze plaque is attached to the front face of the plinth to provide information about the memorial and what it commemorates.

In March 2008 the War Memorials Trust offered a grant of £2500 towards the relocation of the memorial from Royal Ulster Rifles barracks in Ballymena, and creation of a new plinth to meet the requirements of Listed Building Consent. Belfast City Hall is a Grade A listed building and therefore a plinth and base in matching stone had to be created. The plinth on which the memorial had stood at the barracks in Ballymena was quite different from the one on which it had originally stood in Korea, so the WMT agreed to fund the new plinth, although it is not usual policy to fund changes to memorials.

The memorial was originally erected and dedicated in Chaegunghyon, Korea to commemorate men who fell during a particularly tough defensive action in the mountains north of Seoul in January 1951. It was erected on the battlefield, but the severe weather in that situation threatened its survival and in 1952 it was transported to Northern Ireland on the HMS Belfast and re-erected at the Royal Ulster Rifles barracks in Ballymena, Co. Antrim. These barracks were closed in March 2008 and following a request from the British Korean Veterans’ Association Belfast City Council gave permission for the memorial to be relocated to the grounds of the City Hall near the cenotaph.

Carved at the top of the front face of the shaft is a gold leafed cross and below this is the inscription:

In Memory Of
the officers and men
the Ist Battalion
The Royal Ulster Rifles
who lost their lives
and especially those who were killed
near this place
on 3rd – 4th January 1951

Below this is the regimental crest of the Royal Ulster Rifles with “83rd” carved to one side and “86th” to the other. There are also inscriptions on the other faces;

The people
that walked
in darkness
have seen
a great light


In memory of the officers and men of
the 45th Field Regiment and the
170th Mortar Battery
the Royal Artillery
who lost their lives
and especially those who died
near this place
3rd - 4th January 1951

The gold lettering on the plaque on the front of the plinth reads as follows:

“Men from many parts of the British Isles, but predominantly from every community and part of Ireland fought with the RIR in the “Happy Valley” battle in defence of Seoul capital of South Korea.

The memorial above was carved by a Korean mason during the succeeding battles before being erected on 3 July 1951 overlooking the battlefield.

As Seoul expanded the memorial had to be moved and was repatriated to the depot of the Royal Ulster Rifles at St Patricks Barracks, Ballymena.

It was moved to this final resting place on 24 May 2008 with the gracious permission of Belfast City Council.

This relocation was made possible by generous donations from the regiments and veterans who fought in the battle, individuals, trusts, the Korean government and Samsung Electronics.”

The Royal Ulster Rifles Association reports that there have been many favourable comments about the new location of the memorial, and that the BBC and RTE have both reported on it.

Further information

War Memorials Trust reference WM2327
UK National Inventory of War Memorials: 6601

Information about the Royal Ulster Rifles in Korea

If you have a concern about this memorial please contact the Trust on conservation@warmemorials.org

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