Ipswich veteran Matt Rennie reflects on the Korean war.
Ipswich veteran Matt Rennie reflects on the Korean war.

May 24, 1953: The day this Korean veteran cannot forget

SOME refer to it as the Forgotten War, but for veterans like Matt Rennie, it will remain forever etched on the brain.

Monday marks Korean Veterans' Day, and holds special significance for Mr Rennie, and Ipswich veteran who survived being shot in the head in Korea on May 24, 1953.

A member of the 3rd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment, Mr Rennie was on patrol when he walked into an ambush.

The bullet that struck his head pierced his helmet but only grazed his skull.

"I saw the bloke who shot me - he was coming towards me at a rate of knots," Mr Rennie told the Queensland Times when recounting that day.

"I thought I was dead."

A fellow soldier called Frank Connelly fatally shot the opposing soldier before bandaging Mr Rennie's wound.

 

A framed front page from the Courier-Mail newspaper on Monday, January 16, 1956. The photograph features Matt Rennie when he was serving in Korea.
A framed front page from the Courier-Mail newspaper on Monday, January 16, 1956. The photograph features Matt Rennie when he was serving in Korea.

 

He actually broke all of his false teeth trying to open a waterproof bandage container while stemming the bleeding on Mr Rennie's head.

"He picked his teeth up out of the mud and put them back in, but suffered poisoning later on because there was fertiliser in the soil," Mr Rennie said.

"He still blames me for being poisoned."

More than 17,000 Australians fought to defend South Korea against invading forces from North Korea and China between 1950 and 1953.

Tragically, 340 died, some 1,500 were injured, 30 were taken prisoner and 43 are still listed as missing in action.

Federal Member for Blair and Shadow Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Defence Personnel Shayne Neumann encouraged all Australians to pause and reflect on the service and sacrifice of all the brave Australian men and women who served during the Korean War.

Ipswich will pay tribute to Korean veterans at 10am Monday with a special service at the honour stone outside the Soldier's Memorial Hall.

"The Ipswich RSL Sub Branch has also invited Vietnam War hero and Victoria Cross recipient Keith Payne VC AM and his wife Mrs Flo Payne OAM, and I'm pleased to hear they will be in attendance," Mr Neumann said.

"The Korean War is sometimes referred to the 'forgotten war', as it occurred between the Second World War and the Vietnam War, which was the first war to be covered extensively on television."