The officer who chose DEATH over denouncing Britain: George Cross of lieutenant who died in PoW camp after refusing offer to make propaganda broadcast during Korean War is set to fetch £180,000 at auction
- Lieutenant Terence Waters skilfully led his unit in the Korean War
- They were captured by North Korean communists after being outnumbered
- Were offered improved conditions if they agreed to be used as propaganda tool
- Waters told his men to agree but refused to comply himself and died soon after
The George Cross medal awarded to a hero officer who chose death over survival to inspire his men is being sold by his family for £180,000.
Lieutenant Terence Waters skilfully led his unit against a ferocious enemy who outnumbered them six to one during the 1951 Battle of Imjin River in the Korean War.
He was badly wounded, captured and forced to take part in a gruelling 200 mile march to a cave where he and his men were held in appalling conditions.
They were offered improved conditions by their North Korean Communist captors if they agreed to be used by them as a propaganda tool.
They would receive better food and life-saving medical treatment in exchange for work at a Peace Camp, denouncing their own side in broadcasts.
With many of the men on the brink of death due to their untreated wounds and malnutrition, Lieutenant Waters ordered them to save themselves by reluctantly accepting an enemy offer.
He refused to comply and died a short time later in the dark, partially-flooded tunnels from his head and leg wounds. He was aged just 22.
Lieutenant Waters was then posthumously awarded the prestigious gallantry medal.
The prestigious gallantry medal awarded to a hero officer who chose death over survival to inspire his men is being sold by his family for £180,000. Lieutenant Terence Waters skilfully led his unit against a ferocious enemy who outnumbered them six to one during the 1951 Battle of Imjin River in the Korean War
As the only British officer captured – the others had been killed – he was willing to sacrifice his life to ‘uphold the high traditions of British leadership’.
Lt Waters was posthumously awarded the George Cross for his gallantry.
The medal along with an archive of photographs and letters are now going under the hammer with London-based auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb.
Christopher Mellor-Hill, of Dix Noonan Webb, said: ‘This has to be one of the most heroic George Cross’s awarded for bravery.
‘It stands out for being awarded to a hero of The Battle of Imjin River who having died as a POW in the notorious North Korean “Caves” during the Korean War was denied a further gallantry award but who sacrificed his life in defying the North Korean propaganda command by staying with his fellow POW’s.
He was badly wounded, captured and forced to take part in a gruelling 200 mile march to a cave where he and his men were held in appalling conditions. They were offered improved conditions by their North Korean Communists captors if they agreed to be used by them as a propaganda tool. He refused to comply and died a short time later. Pictured: Lieutenant Waters (left) and his army colleague Lieutenant Phil Curtis
The medals which were awarded to Waters. Seen left is the George Cross which he was awarded posthumously. Centre is the Mention in Dispatches with Oak Leaf medal. Right is the United Nations Korea medal
‘He exemplified all those high traditions of British leadership with courage.’
Lt Waters was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire, in 1929 and went to Bristol Grammar School before being accepted to Royal Military College Sandhurst in 1948.
The following year, he was commissioned second lieutenant in the West Yorkshire Regiment.
He departed for Korea in early 1950 where his regiment was attached to the 1st Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment.
Between April 22 and 25, 1951, the 700 British soldiers faced a much larger force of 11,000 Chinese troops at the Battle of Imjin River.
Lt Waters was part of ‘A’ Company who withstood the brunt of repeated frenzied attacks.
They suffered severe casualties including the deaths of all their officers except for Lt Waters who, although wounded in the leg, assumed command of his company.
Lt Waters was part of ‘A’ Company who withstood the brunt of repeated frenzied attacks. Pictured: The certificate awarded to Lieutenant Waters
The letters and documents which are part of the sale are seen above. They include a contemporary copy of the Daily Mail
He was also badly wounded in the head later in the battle and separately recommended for a Military Cross for his ‘splendid example of coolness and gallantry’.
However, these could not be awarded posthumously.
Lt Waters was taken to ‘The Caves’ in the summer of 1951 after a long march north during which he collapsed of exhaustion.
There, he and other captured British personnel were kept in total darkness and on meagre rations next to dying, starving Korean PoWs.
One day, a North Korean colonel proposed to move them to a Peace Camp where they could denounce the American ‘occupation’ of Korea.
The British prisoners, one by one, refused his offer, but Lt Waters then pulled them aside realising they would die if they remained there.
The Mail’s 1954 edition told the ‘glorious story’ of how the prisoners defied their torturers
He said they should pretend to submit to their captors but ‘remember always you are British soldiers’.
In his memoirs Captain Anthony Farrar-Hockely, a commanding officer in the Gloucestershire Regiment, wrote: ‘The (enemy) colonel pressed Terry to accompany them. He returned four times.
‘Armed with promises of an operation on Terry’s wounds and a special diet of eggs, milk and meat in place of boiled maize, he failed each time.
‘Quite simply, he was given a choice: life and agreement to reject the principles for which he was fighting in Korea; or a steadfast adherence to those principles – and death.
‘Coolly, loyally, like then gallant officer he was, Terry chose death. And so he died.’
His original George Cross citation stated: ‘He was a young, inexperienced officer, comparatively recently commissioned from the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.
‘Yet he set an example of the highest gallantry that may be asked of any Briton: he sacrificed his life rather than dishonour his nation.
‘Surely his death, chosen so selflessly and so courageously at Pyongyang, must stand with the finest epics of personal courage in the history of British prowess.’
The sale takes place on February 17.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CONFLICT BETWEEN NORTH KOREA AND SOUTH KOREA
In June 1950 fighting broke out between the communist North and capitalist South, sparking a brutal war that killed between two and four million people.
Beijing backed Pyongyang in the three-year conflict, while Washington threw its support behind the South — alliances that have largely endured.
The Koreas have been locked in a dangerous dance ever since that conflict ended in 1953 with an armistice rather than a formal peace treaty, leaving them technically at war.
Pyongyang has tested the fragile ceasefire with numerous attacks.
The secretive nation sent a team of 31 commandos to Seoul in a botched attempt to assassinate then-President Park Chung-Hee in 1968. All but two were killed.
In the ‘axe murder incident’ of 1976, North Korean soldiers attacked a work party trying to chop down a tree inside the Demilitarized Zone, leaving two US army officers dead.
Pyongyang launched perhaps its most audacious assassination attempt in Myanmar in 1983, when a bomb exploded in a Yangon mausoleum during a visit by South Korean President Chun Doo-hwan. He survived but 21 people, including some government ministers, were killed.
U.S. Marines covering the road leading to the front lines in South Korea in 1950
In 1987 a bomb on a Korean Air flight exploded over the Andaman Sea, killing all 115 people on board. Seoul accused Pyongyang, which denied involvement.
The North’s founding leader Kim Il-Sung died in 1994, but under his son Kim Jong-Il it continued to prod its southern neighbor.
In 1996 a North Korean submarine on a spying mission ran aground off the eastern South Korean port of Gangneung, sparking 45-day manhunt that ended with 24 crew members and infiltrators killed.
A clash between South Korean and North Korean naval ships in 1999 left some 50 of the North’s soldiers dead.
In March 2010 Seoul accused Pyongyang of torpedoing one of its corvette warships, killing 46 sailors. Pyongyang denied the charge.
November that year saw North Korea launch its first attack on a civilian-populated area since the war, firing 170 artillery shells at Yeonpyeong. Four people were killed, including two civilians.
North Korea has steadfastly pursued its banned nuclear and ballistic missile programs since its first successful test of an atomic bomb in 2006, as it looks to build a rocket capable of delivering a warhead to the US mainland.
Its progress has accelerated under leader Kim Jong-Un, culminating in its sixth and biggest nuclear test in September 2017.
Kim has since declared the country a nuclear power.
Despite the caustic effect of clashes and the battery of conventional weapons that the North has amassed at the border to threaten Seoul, the two nations have held talks in the past.
Then North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il held two historic summits with counterparts from the South in 2000 and 2007, which eased tensions between the neighbors.
Lower-level talks since then have been much hyped but failed to produce significant results.
Source: Read Full Article