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92 year old Billy Orr tells of his time as a Prisoner of the Korea War

Date
18 October 2013 14:00

Speaking from his home at the Blind Veterans UK centre in Brighton, Billy recounts his experiences during the three year long war between the communist North and right wing South.

92 year old Billy Orr was among the United Nations forces which fought alongside South Korea troops against North Korea and Chinese in the Korean War between 1950 and 1953. Since the war ended, Korea War veterans can receive an Ambassador for Peace medal when they return to South Korea on visits.

Unfortunately Billy is not able to go back because he is blind as a result of a grenade blast while serving in Korea, and has other health problems.

Speaking from his home at the Blind Veterans UK centre in Brighton, Billy recounts his experiences during the three year long war between the communist North and right wing South.

"I was captured in 1951 and was put into a camp. We had to find a way to pass the time, so we played plant and escape. We had to be careful to gain the trust of the guard and get him to think we were alright. Once we got him trained we made the bid for the escape, which we did but then we were recaptured. The people in North Korea are very nice people and when we would go and see the villagers at night they would try to touch us to tell us they cared for us."

During the War it was an explosion that damaged Billy's eyes and the subsequent captivity in a bamboo cage and poor diet led him to go blind.

Billy said: "I am absolutely delighted to be receiving my medal.  I am really looking forward to meeting the ambassador and I hope his visit puts the Blind Veterans UK charity on the map."

Billy has been a member of Blind Veterans UK - the charity for vision impaired ex-Service men and women, for more than 40 years, and has been a resident of the charity's Brighton centre since 1989.

The award ceremony will be the culmination of a campaign by fellow Korean War veteran and member of Blind Veterans UK Tom Clough from Gloucester who had approached the British Korean Veterans Association about Billy receiving a medal after learning of his plight when he met him at a Blind Veterans UK event. Tom is himself a Korean War veteran and received his Ambassador for Peace media when he returned to Korea.

Avril Wilbourne, friend and carer of Billy said: "He is a very proud man and he was proud to become a Sergeant.  He is such an unusual and lovely man and it's been a real privilege to know him."

UK Ambassador for the Republic of Korea, His Excellency Sungnam Lim is to present 92 year old Korean War veteran Billy Orr with the Ambassador for Peace medal in October at the Blind Veterans UK rehabilitation, care and training centre in Brighton.