An Ambassador for Peace

John Thomson
John Thomson

A Leven man has been proclaimed an Ambassador for Peace, over 60 years after a conflict which became known as ‘The Forgotten War’.

Royal Navy veteran John Thomson was privileged to attend a St Andrew’s Day event in which he and 100 other ex-servicemen were acknowledged for their role in the Korean War.

A delegation from South Korea attended the ceremony in Bathgate to present medals and a letter of gratitude to the men who had helped protect their country and uphold liberal democracy, declaring them ‘Ambassadors of Peace’.

John (81) was a radio operator on board a ship which shadowed and fired upon North Korean troop trains heading for the front line.

The trains would try to hide in the many tunnels along the mountainous railway routes.

His ship assisted the US Navy vessel, Missouri, and zig-zagged along the coast to attract North Korean battery fire and expose the enemy to the power of the US forces.

John’s fleet also safeguarded the ‘Bamboo Curtain’ near the Hong Kong islands from Chinese advances.

Originally from Buckhaven, John (81) was in the Methil Sea Cadets and the Navy’s boy service before joining the Royal Navy and being sent to Korea in 1952.

Despite the obvious danger, he said: “When you were young, at 18-19, you had no fear. I didn’t bother.”

The war had begun in 1950 over the division of Korea at the end of the Second World War, and Cold War tensions.

China and the Soviet Union aided the North, while a United Nations delegation, headed largely by the USA, defended the South.

John’s family was probably one of the most heavily associated with the armed services from Fife. While he and his younger brother joined the Navy, he had three older brothers in the RAF and another three in the Army. Three of his sisters also married servicemen.