Korean veteran Roy Hull from Aldeby wins trip of a lifetime

Korean Veteran Roy Hull won an essay writing competition about his memories of the war. His prize wa

Korean Veteran Roy Hull won an essay writing competition about his memories of the war. His prize was an opportunity to return to the country as Korea's guest. - Credit: Nick Butcher

An 85-year-old Korean War veteran has just returned from the trip of a lifetime where he was honoured for his service in the war 60-years-ago.

Roy Hull, of Aldeby, joined the Royal Navy as a boy seaman two months before his 16th birthday and was stationed in Hong Kong on the colony-class cruiser HMS Kenya when the Korean War broke out in June 1950.

His ship sailed to Pusan in South Korea where Mr Hull remembers firing over troops’ heads as they landed, pushing back the North Korean forces.

Mr Hull, who began his service in the West Indies, was invited to write an essay about his enduring memories of the war by the British Korean Veterans Association, to mark the 60th anniversary of the Korean Armistice Agreement which ended the war in July 1953.

The prize for the top four entries was an all-expenses-paid trip to Korea and Mr Hull’s essay was crowned the outright winner, chosen from about 60 entries.

Mr Hull said: “I feel very proud to have served. I feel it was worthwhile, we fought on the side of right and I was glad to see the Korean people get democracy and freedom back.

“I was in two minds about whether to enter the competition. I’ve always been able to tell stories about my time in the war and my daughters and my wife Margaret have always told me I really should write them down.

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“I told our postman who comes in every morning for a coffee and he said ‘you write it and I will type it up for you’. I mulled over it for a couple of days but, once I got down to thinking, it all came flooding back to me. It opened up hilarity, sadness, surprise, tragedy and I started thinking about all the people I was out there with, where they are now and if they are still with us.”

Mr Hull was invited to the Korean Embassy in London with the three other winners and last month travelled to Seoul in South Korea – along with American veterans – where he said he was “treated like royalty.”

“They couldn’t have done more for us,” said Mr Hull. “The whole nation is so grateful and everyone we met was full of praise for us.

“One of the sponsors of the trip was The Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI) so we spent a day at this brand new state-of- the-art hospital where we had a complete medical check – ears, eyes, throat, nose, heart, brain. We had acupuncture and spa baths. They had so much equipment and the whole place was spotlessly clean.

“We went to the national cemetery where there are 340 acres of graves immaculately placed, all with flowers at the headstones and we laid a wreath at the national memorial.

“We went to the demilitarized zone and into the building where they signed the armistice. The demarcation line runs through the building so we could stand with one foot in South Korea and one foot in North Korea.”

Mr Hull also saw a re-enactment of the landing of Incheon, of which he was a part, and before they left the veterans were treated to a seven-course banquet where Mr Hull was presented with a Korean War Veteran Peace Medal and a framed citation as an Ambassador for Peace.

Mr Hull, who went on to qualify as a gunner instructor before working for the British Overseas Airways Corporation at Heathrow in flight operations, said: “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would go back. It was a trip of a lifetime. I shall remember it to the grave.”