Ronald (Ron) Lovell was born in Sydney in 1932. He grew up in Revesby with one older brother and two older sisters. His mother passed away when he was only nine years old, and his father raised Ron and his siblings with the help of family. After Ron left school, he had a few various jobs, including sheep shearing in the country.
In 1950, the Australian Government committed to send troops to Korea. 3 Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR) was undermanned, so the Army began the ‘K Force’ recruiting campaign. Ron and some of his mates, all 18 to 20 years old, decided to enlist. They completed their basic training and in December 1952, they landed in South Korea.
“It didn’t take long for us to realise that this was not just some adventure we were embarking on.”
3RAR formed part of the 27 British Commonwealth Infantry Brigade. When Ron arrived, he was stationed at the 38th Parallel. His role was to patrol no man’s land every night “in pitch dark”, even through the bitterly cold Korean winter which saw temperatures below freezing.
During his time on the frontline, he saw action in the Samichon Valley. The Battle of the Samichon River on 24 July 1953 took place over two concerted night attached and was the last of the war.
The Armistice was signed on 27 July 1953, just seven months into Ron’s deployment.
After the Armistice came into effect, he stayed in South Korea on garrison duty which involved training and border patrols. He returned to Australia in January 1954.
“These years were both sad and satisfying, experiencing the comradeship of great mates, being scared and frightened of the unknown, not knowing if they would survive, being homesick but delighted to receive mail and packages from home, witnessing death and injuries but also a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment in the end.”
When he returned home, Ron retired from the Army and went back to civilian life. He worked in the transport sector, driving a truck and contracting out to the Department of Main Roads. He retired when he was 68, with his wife, Fay. They share three children and four grandchildren.
In 1962, he met Sheridan O’Brien, a veteran who served in the Korean War with the Royal Australian Navy. They quickly formed a friendship and continue to share outings, reminisce, and are involved in many activities arranged for Korean War veterans.
Ron says that “if the war were to break out again in Korea, I would gladly fight for Korea once again.”
Discover more stories of Korean War veterans at the Armistice in Korea: 1953-2023 photography exhibition open at the Anzac Memorial until 7 August