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LONDON (AFP) – Nearly 300 elderly veterans marched through London on Thursday as Britain marked the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice.
Wearing medals on their blazers and carrying regimental flags, the veterans marched the short distance from the Horse Guards Parade ground to Westminster Abbey, in tribute to all those who fought in the campaign, including more than 1,000 British troops who lost their lives.
A service of thanksgiving was held at the abbey, attended by South Korean ambassador Lim Sung-Nam, veterans minister Mark Francois, senior military representatives and many veterans and their families.
Some 100,000 British troops served on the Korean peninsula during the 1950-1953 conflict, many of them on mandatory national service.
When the armistice was signed on July 27, 1953, more than 1,000 British troops had died and some 1,060 had been taken prisoner by the North Koreans.
"Today is about commemorating an important campaign, which saw more than 1,000 men lose their lives to provide freedom for Korea," Francois said in Westminster Abbey.
"I am very happy to be here with so many veterans to remember what at times was a very bloody conflict."
Lim read out a message from South Korean President Park Geun-Hye.
"I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the British servicemen for their invaluable sacrifices during the Korean War in defence of freedom and democracy in the Republic of Korea," the president said.
During the three-year war, troops from 16 countries including Australia, Britain, Canada, France and the United States fought for South Korea under a United Nations flag.
The conflict ended with an armistice and not a full peace treaty, leaving the two Koreas technically still in a state of war.
Neil Townsend, who fought at the Battle of the Imjin River, said: "Today is an important opportunity for me to remember what is so often referred to as the 'forgotten war'. It is important we never forget, and I'll be thinking of my close comrades, many who sadly made the ultimate sacrifice."