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Remembering the Korean War

On 27 July, it will be 70 years since the end of the Korean War. Now struggling with sight loss, Tom - a former prisoner of war - shares his recollections of the conflict.

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Blind veteran Tom, Korean War, sitting on a bench, with dark glasses and a white cane

Captured after fierce fighting, Tom was to spend three years in a Prisoner of War camp.

He survived - but some of his comrades didn’t. Astonishingly, on release, Tom stayed in the Army and served for a total of 32 years.

Today, he is blinded by age-related macular degeneration and needs your support.

Tom joined the Army as a boy soldier in 1945.

At first, he joined the Royal Artillery but went to Korea with the Gloucester Regiment. It was at the Battle of Imjun that Tom saw the true brutality of war. Surrounded, out of ammunition, food and water, the order came to flee. With nowhere to go, they were taken prisoner.

The conditions Tom faced in the prison camp were horrendous. His injured comrades received no treatment. Tom could do nothing but watch them give up. Desperate, Tom hatched a plan to escape. "We wanted to make our way west and hopefully catch the eye of an American helicopter. Or get a small boat and get out to sea in it and get picked up." It wasn’t to be. As he and his friend tried to escape, guards intercepted them. Tom believes they were betrayed.

“I was put in a small box I could hardly move in, in solitary confinement. I was taken out every day and questioned because they wanted to know who helped us to escape.”
Blind veteran

Tom gave nothing away.

Years later, when he was finally released, he said the relief was enormous. "It was a great feeling. We had three years of back pay to come!", he jokes. "We went out of the camp singing ‘It's a Long Way to Tipperary’." Committed to serving his country, Tom’s next posting was in Germany. "It was great. I was free, you know, I was a free man."

Blind veteran Tom, Korean War veteran
Blind veteran Tom, Korean War
"I’m glad I did it. It was an experience. And I would never have experienced it anywhere else. It wasn't good. I'll put it this way. My friends died - about six altogether. In battle and in the camp."
Blind veteran

Now 92, Tom's sight loss means he has needed support from Blind Veterans UK since 2012. He has welcomed the equipment that helps him stay independent and he has enjoyed visits to our centres of wellbeing. "I’ve been to both the charity’s centres and they were marvellous. They really look after me and I cannot praise Blind Veterans UK enough."

Tom gave 32 years of his life to the Army. 

Now it’s our turn to be there for him and for the others just like him. There are thousands of blind veterans in the UK today whose lives can be transformed by the right care and equipment.

The support Tom has received has made such a difference to him.

Will you donate today to give another blind veteran some years of happiness? 

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