Beginning of Korean War

23 Jun 1950

Two Australians—Major Stuart Peach and Squadron Leader Ronald Rankin completed a two-week visit along the 38th parallel inspecting Republic of Korea Army dispositions, activities, defences and weaponry. Australia had been the first country to provide trained military observers to assist the work of the United Nations Commission on Korea (UNCOK), and they were the only observers in Korea. Returning to Seoul on 24 June, they reported that the South Korean Army was organised entirely ‘for defence and … in no condition to carry out an attack’. The next day, North Korea invaded across the parallel. It was the Peach-Rankin report showing unequivocally that North Korea was an aggressor which on 27 June convinced the UN Security Council to act. Concluded the official historian: Thus the journey of Peach and Rankin ranks as one of the most consequential reconnaissances ever conducted by Australian service officers.