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Belgians of the 3rd ID, Korea

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Dear all,

After running this through with the Mod Rustycanteen, I hope that this will be interesting and informative on a period of both US and Belgian history which is largely unknown anywhere – but above all, relevant to US militaria.

For those of you who do not know, Belgium was one of the 21-odd UN countries which sent troops to Korea. At any one time between 1951 and 1953, there were about 900 Belgians in the Korea integrated into a US Infantry Regiment. A small unit from Luxembourg was also part of the unit. Therefore, I hope for the purposes of the forum, they can be considered as foreign members of the US Army.

Anyway, the first Belgian arrived in Korea in early 1951 and were briefly attached to the British 29th Infantry Brigade. They fought at the Battle of the Imjin River and were rescued by the 7th Infantry Regiment after they withdrew from their advanced positions across the river.

After the Imjin, they became part of the 3rd Infantry Division – attached first to the 15th and later to the 65th (Puerto-Rican) Infantry Regiments. Between 1952-3 they served in various important engagements including the so-called “Boomerang” positions at Chatkol. They remained in Korea, attached to the US army until their disbandment in 1955.

They won a US (and two ROK) Presidential Unit Citations for heroism in the conflict and countless individual American gallantry awards. After the war, quite a few former personnel took the opportunity to emigrate to the US or Canada. One soldier, a Luxembourger, served in Korea with the Luxembourgish unit and in Vietnam in the US Army.



My interest in the conflict is quite recent. It’s an exciting period and little is known by most collectors. So, anyway, a walkthrough of my collection of items relevant to the period in US service:


First, the brown beret which gave the battalion its nickname. This was the integral part of the regiment’s identity and uniform. Even when they almost all transferred to US uniforms (c.1952) they retained the beret as a national identifier. Note the cap badge – this is the special type for non-commissioned officers.


The unit’s SSI – this was worn on the opposite arm to the 3rd ID patch on battledress and Ike Jackets.


3ID1.jpg(And a 3rd ID badge of the time – kind gift of Valéry on this forum)


Something a bit more bizarre – in original photos this is the most striking aspect. The camouflage “Denison” smock is Belgian made and there are three types. This was worn over US M43 and M51 uniforms right up until 1955. It produces a very strange look!


A Belgian magazine from 1951 (“The Illustrated Patriot”) depicts Belgian soldiers in the winter of 1951, just after their move to the 3rd Infantry Div.


And some medals – the Belgian government provided its own medals for the campaign but there are plenty of examples of US campaign (and gallantry medals) being awarded and worn by personnel. It is a national pride thing I believe.

The “article 4” medal for heroism (“Corée-Korea” just says Korea in both French and Dutch languages):


Campaign medal:


Medal for volunteering:


UNO campaign medal. The text is in French on the back:


If anyone has any questions about the unit, please let me know by PM: I don’t want to distract from the forum’s main content! For more information, please see my website on the topic:


Kind regards,


...horum omnium fortissimi sunt belgae! ("of all of them, the Belgians are the bravest!") - Julius Caesar

Remember the Belgians and Luxembourgers of the 3rd ID in Korea, 1951-5!

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