Who volunteered to fight in the Korean war? Or serve with British Commonwealth Occupation Forces Japan or Korea

Five years after the end of WW2, Australia became involved in the war in Korea, fighting alongside USA.  They would remain for three years protecting South Korea.

What encouraged these young men to enlist again?



WX10609 Sgt John Verdun ‘Des’ COLEVAS 

At the end of war, Des was recovered from Niihama Copper Mines, Japan owned by Sumitomo, not far from Hiroshima.
He had enlisted AIF 14 Jan 1941 and later joined ‘D’ Coy.  At Singapore late Jan 1942,  a further Platoon was created within ‘D’ Coy – No 16 Platoon.  Dees became Platoon Sergeant to Sgt Ron Arbery.  All of ‘D’ Coy experienced a torrid time during the Japanese invasion – they were on he front line.  16 Platoon suffered high loss of life in those first few days.  Des was WIA 9 Feb receiving GSW to the left side of his chest wall and evacuated to AGH.
As a POW in Singapore, Des was included in work parties to Jahore Bahru and Adam Park before leaving with ‘D’ Force Thailand S Battalion in 1943 to work on the Burma-Thai Railway at the Hellfire Pass region.  Please read about D Force S Battalion
Des survived the hell of working on the railway – and in 1944 was considered fit by the Japanese and able to work in Japan!   He sailed with the ‘Rashin’ Maru Party to Japan – a terrible 70 day frightening journey to Moji, Japan.
Sergeant John ‘Des” Verdun Colevas spent 12 months after the war as guard sergeant at Marrinup Prisoner of War Camp before embarking for Japan with BCOF with 66th Australian Infantry Battalion.  He transferred to  Korea as  Warrant Officer Class 2 and C.S.M. ‘D’ Coy 3rd Battalion RAR from 1951-1953.  He left 3 RAR to return to Australia and became a national Service instructor  Regt. No. 5/250.


Above:  2nd from Left Des Colevas – Korea



WX12427 Private Robert Arthur Foster enlisted on 15th August 1950 and was discharged 10th November 1953.
He was wounded in North Korea at 0630 hours 24th April 1951 receiving a gunshot wound to his left thigh and shrapnel wounds to his right knee and left elbow as well as slight concussion.  He was evacuated to Seoul, then to Kure in Japan where he spent 5 weeks convalescing.  He was with 2nd Battalion Regt. No.’s were 5/000058 and 5/2305.


WX16235 Private Alfred Victor King (aka Albert John King) enlisted 5 August 1950.  Assigned Regiment No. 5/400008 King landed in Korea 28 September 1950 serving with the Special Forces Unit RAR.    Following 24 days in action King was KIA 8 Nov 1950 aged 26 years.
King’s remains are buried at the United Nations Memorial, Pusan, Korea, Sukchon Cemetery.  Portion 2, Plot and Row 11, Grave 126.
King came to Western Australia as a Fairbridge Farm School Boy on the ship ‘Oronsay’ Aug 1932.  He had no known family.
Sadly, there was no-one to mourn King’s death.

WX7697 Corporal Ronald Ralph Jeffery –

 Ron enlisted AIF 10 Aug 1940 and later joined 2/4th MGB’s ‘B’ Company 9 Platoon as a Scout under Commanding Officer Lt Lee.  He was sent to work on the Burma-Thai Railway with ‘D’ Force S Battalion in 1943 – but off from the main part with the newly formed Capt Fred Harris Party.
He survived to sail with Both’ Party supposedly to Japan, but got as far as French Indo China, where he remained as a POW until the end of War.

Re-enlisted and served with BCOF at Kure, Japan.  His Regt. No. on enlistment was WX500151.  Ron went on to the rank of Warrant Officer serving with an Australian Army medical unit
WX228 Lieutenant David Victor Mentiplay served with BCOF from 1947-1949 with 67th Infantry Battalion and the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment.

Mentiplay enlisted AIF Dec 1940.  He later joined 2/4th MGB. He returned to Northam from Officer Training Course and was appointed Intelligence Office and Lieutenant  to Battalion HQ, Special Reserve Battalion under Major Saggers.
Mentiplay went with work parties to Jahore Bahru and to Adam Park before leaving with H’ Force Group 6, Officers Party for the Burma-Thai Railway in 1943. This group returned to the ‘comforts’ of Singapore at the end of 1943.  (We say ‘comforts’ because Changi and Singapore was considered a ‘holiday camp’ compared to the Railway and other POW work camp areas).  Mentiplay was housed at Sime Road and then all POWs were sent to Changi until the end of war.


WX8952 Private Robert Ronald Reibe.  Served with BCOF in Japan.  His Regt. No was WX501060.  Reibe was discharged 9th March 1949.

Riebe enlisted AIF 25 Oct 1940 and later joined 2/4th MGB’s ‘D’ Coy as a Despatch Rider to 13 Platoon under commanding officer Lt. Wankey.  In the front line of the Japanese Invasion, 13 Platoon suffered many deaths and injured.
At Changi he was sent with work parties to Jahore Bahru and Adam Park before being entrained to work on the Burma-Thai Rail withD’ Force Thailand S Battalion.  
Riebe was recovered at the end of the war from a work party sent to Sonkurai-Nikhe Defense Line, Thailand.



Over 17,000 Australians served during the Korean War, of which 340 were killed and over 1,216 wounded. A further 29 had become prisoners of war.