Thursday, 20 June 2013

Turkish Brigade, The Korean Islamic Catalyst

Kudos to you, Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, you have given us an idea about this stuff.

The Turkish Brigade (code name North StarTurkishŞimal Yıldızı or Kutup Yıldızı) was a Turkish Army Infantry Brigade that served under United Nations command during the Korean War between 1950 to 1953. Attached to the U.S. 25th Infantry Division the Turkish Brigade fought in several actions, and was awarded Unit Citations from Korea and the United States after fighting in the Kunuri Battle.

On 29 June 1950 the government of the Republic of Turkey replied to the United Nations Resolution 83 requesting military aid to South Korea, following the attack initiated by North Korea on 25 June. The cable stated: "Turkey is ready to meet his responsibilities." On 25 July 1950 the Turkish government decided to send a brigade of 5,000 troops comprising three infantry battalions, an artillery battalion and auxiliary units, to fight under UN Command against North Korea and subsequently the People's Republic of China. Turkey was the second country to answer the UN call, after the United States.

Three different Turkish Brigades served in the Korean War, each replacing the previous one each year. The core of the 1st Turkish Brigade was the 241st Infantry Regiment based at Ayaş which was supplemented with volunteers to raise it to brigade level. Brigadier General Tahsin Yazıcı, a veteran of World War I, who had volunteered to be demoted to lead this force, commanded the 1st Brigade.

The advance party of the Turkish Brigade arrived in Busan on 12 October 1950. The main body arrived five days later, October 17 from the eastern Mediterranean port of Iskenderun, Turkey, and the brigade went into bivouac near Daegu where it underwent training and received U.S. equipment. The brigade was attached to the U.S. 25th Infantry Division.

The bulk of the enlisted men were from small towns and villages in the mountains of eastern Turkey. For these volunteer officers and volunteer enlisted men who were just completing their compulsory two year service, it was not only the first time that they had left their native country—it was the first time they had been out of the villages of their birth. It was, at least for the enlisted men, the first time that they had encountered non-Muslims. Vast cultural and religious differences existed between the Turks and the Americans.

The U.S. Army command was unaware of the difficulties in coordination, logistics and, above all, basic communication in a common language that would complicate orders and troop movements, especially in the crucial early months of their joint exercises. Unfamiliar food, clothing requirements and transportation would come to create more problems than the American high command had counted on.

The dietary requirements of the Turks forbade pork products, and the American rations contained pork products forbidden to all Muslims. A Japanese cook was hired to provide rations that met the Turkish requirements. Bread and coffee presented other problems. The Turks favored a heavy, substantial bread containing non-bleached flour along with thick, strong, heavily sweetened coffee. Most of the enlisted men had fierce looks, flowing mustaches and carried a sidearm sword that, to Americans and the other U.N. troops, appeared to be a long knife, all of which attracted much media attention.

In addition to their contributions on the battlefield, the Turks also aided in humanitarian work, helping to operate war-time schools for war orphans. Shortly after the war, some Turks who were stationed in South Korea as UN peacekeepers began teaching Koreans about Islam. That means the Turks taught newly-converted Korean Muslims about Hanifite School of Islam (Hanafi), one of the Islamic sect (maddhab) in Ahli Sunnah wal Jama'ah Group because the default Islamic Sect for Turkey is Hanafism. 

Early converts established the Korea Muslim Society in 1955, at which time the first South Korean mosque was erected. The Korea Muslim Society grew large enough to become the Korea Muslim Federation in 1967.