Korean War Medals Home Page

General Information - A Catalgoue of Decorations and Campaign Medals
Issued By France To United Nations Forces
For The Korean War 1950 - 1954

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General Information about France's involvement in the Korean War

On 19 July 1950 the French government applied only economical sanctions against North Korea as it was decided that to send troops to a second theatre of operations would effect the long and solitary efforts of the French forces fighting in Indochina.  However on 23 August 1950 after General MacArthur requested further troops from the United Nations to save the total collapse of forces in South Korea, the French government decided to form a battalion.  This was a battalion of volunteers to show the will of the French, in spite of its own responsibilities in Indochina, to fight against the one aggression - communism.

 General Magrin-Vernerey Montclar, the inspector of the French Foreign Legion, was the first to volunteer and was assigned to command the French Battalion  (Bataillon Francais).  It consisted of a HQ company (including an elite assault pioneer platoon), support company and three riffle companies (1st, 2nd and 3rd), each with one support and three rifle platoons.  After a brief period of training the French Battalion with the effective strength of approximately 1,000 officers, N.C.O.'s and men embarked for Korea from Marseille on 25 October 1950.  They arrived at Pusan on 29 November 1950 and were assigned to the 23rd RCT (2nd US Division).

 The French fought through some of the fiercest battles of the war and were the first to be awarded the American Distinguished Unit Citation.  The battalion first distinguished itself on 10 January 1951 in a bayonet charge at Wonjo, and again the following month between 13th and 17th February in an epic defence of Chip'yong-ni village, which turned the Chinese offensive.  At Putchaetul on 17 May 1951 the pioneers fought to the death.  Heartbreak Ridge was captured in October 1951, and Arrow Head Hill held in October 1952, again at the cost of the pioneers.

 3,421 French soldiers served in Korea during the war and of these 287 were killed in action, 1,350 wounded in action, 7 missing in action and 12 were taken prisoners of war.

 A French patrol gun-boat, FMS La Grandiere, was also in action in the early stages of the fighting, but returned to other duties later.