Korean War Armistice signed

Monday, 27 July, 1953

IWM (BF 11157)In July 1951, peace talks began at Panmunjom. Static fighting along the 38th parallel continued over the next two years, often in conditions of extreme cold and heat. Commonwealth troops were deployed on a rotational basis, defending hill positions and carrying out patrols. Set-piece operations did occur from time to time, such as Operation COMMANDO, as both sides sought to control key areas of terrain and win a success that might improve their negotiating position. From July 1951 British forces formed part of the 1st Commonwealth Division under Major-General James Cassels.

When agreement was reached, it came at the end of the longest negotiated armistice in history: 158 meetings spread over two years and 17 days. That evening at 2200 hours, the truce came into effect. The Korean Armistice Agreement in bringing about the cessation of hostilities was exceptional in that it was purely a military document - no nation is a signatory to the agreement. In signing the Armistice Agreement the belligerents:

  • suspended open hostilities

  • withdrew all military forces and equipment from a 4,000-meter-wide zone, establishing the Demilitarized Zone as a buffer between the forces

  • prevented both sides from entering the air, ground, or sea areas under control of the other;
    arranged release and repatriation of prisoners of war and displaced persons; and

  • established the Military Armistice Commission (MAC) and other agencies to discuss any violations and to ensure adherence to the truce terms

The armistice, while it brought an end to hostilities, was not a permanent peace treaty between nations.

(Above left, two Royal Ulster Riflemen, both former prisoners of war in Korea, embarking on the Empire Orwell to bid farewell to friends travelling home to the United Kingdom. They later travelled home on the troopship Dilwara.)
(© IWM (BF 11157))