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Turkish Brigade„
[[File:WaltonWalker&TahsinYazici|240x240px|frameless}}|Turkish Brigade commander decorated by US General Walker|alt=]]
Turkish Brigade commander decorated by US General Walker
Active 1950-1960
Disbanded 1960
Country Flag of Turkey.svg Turkey
Allegiance Flag of the United Nations.svg United Nations
Branch Army
Type Infantry Brigade
Size 14,936 (over duration of the conflict)[1]
Part of US 25th Infantry Division
Nickname(s) North Star
Engagements Korean War
Decorations Distinguished Unit Citation (United States)
Presidential Unit Citation (Korea)
Brigadier General Tahsin Yazıcı (1950-November 16, 1951)
Assistant : Celâl Dora
Namık Arguç (-August 20, 1952)
Assistant: Nuri Pamir (June 5, 1952 .[2])
Sırrı Acar (-July 6, 1953)

The Turkish Brigade (code name North Star, Turkish language: Şimal Yıldızı[3] or Kutup Yıldızı[4]) 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.[5]


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.[6]

Service historyEdit

File:Turkish Brigade Kunuri.jpg

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.[7]

The advance party of the Turkish Brigade arrived in Pusan 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 Taegu 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.[8]

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.

Few American liaison officers were attached to the Turkish companies, thereby adding to the problems the Turks faced in their initial combat operations. Misinterpretation of orders resulted from the lack of communication between Allies. The problem, at first overlooked and judged to be only minor, became exacerbated in the heat of battle. Though it was initially placed as reserve for the U.S. 8th Army, the collapse of the front in the face of massive Chinese attacks on 26 November 1950, meant that it soon found itself in the thick of battle.

The Turkish brigade, between November 1950 and July 1953, fought in the following battles:

The brigade's most costly battle was Kunu-ri, which took place towards the end of 1950. Actually a series of four encounters lasting from 26 November to 6 December 1950; Battle of Wawon on 28 November, Sinnim-ni, 28–29 November, Kunuri Gorge, 29–30 November, and Sunchon Gorge on 30 November 1950.[11] The brigade lost over 15% of its personnel and 70% of equipment at Kunuri, with 218 killed and 455 wounded, and close to 100 taken prisoner.[12]

After the battle of Kumyangjang-Ni, 25–26 January, in which the Turkish Brigade repulsed a Chinese force three times its size, President Harry Truman signed a Distinguished Unit Citation (now the Presidential Unit Citation) on 11 July 1951.[13] The brigade was also awarded the Presidential Unit Citation from the President of Korea.


İstanbul 6122

Standard of Turkish Armed Forces in the Korean War in Istanbul Military Museum in Şişli, Istanbul.

The Turkish Armed Forces Command (TAFC) was a regimental combat team with three infantry battalions, along with supporting artillery and engineers. The three battalions were commanded by Major Imadettin Kuranel, Major Mithat Ulunu, and Major Lütfü Bilgon. It was the only brigade-sized UN unit attached permanently to a U.S. division throughout the Korean War. The Turkish Brigade comprised:

  • 241st Infantry Regiment, composed of three Infantry Battalions
  • Motorized Field Artillery Battalion, composed of three Howitzer Batteries and a Headquarters Battery. Each Howitzer Battery consisted of six 105 mm guns
  • Motorized Engineering Company
  • Motorized Anti-Aircraft Battery
  • Transportation Truck Company
  • Motorized Signal Platoon
  • Motorized Anti-Tank Platoon
  • Medical Company
  • Repair and Maintenance Unit
  • Military Band
  • Replacement Company, composed of various branch and non-commissioned officers, and soldiers, such as Infantry, Artillery, Signal, Engineering, etc.


Overall losses for the Turkish Brigade in Korea was 721 killed in action, 2,111 wounded and 168 missing.[14] A total of 14,936 men served in the brigade between 1950-1953[15] with about 5,455 soldiers in Korea at any one time.[16]

Service in KoreaEdit

The Brigade had a full turnover after a period of one years service. The Brigades that served for the 10 year period were numbered 1 through 10. Of these, the first three saw action. During the service of the 3rd Brigade in 1953, the Korean Armistice was signed. Thereafter, Turkey continued maintaining forces at full Brigade level for another seven years, in accordance with United Nations agreements. Kenan Evren, seventh President of Republic of Turkey, served in the Brigade from 1958-59.

Popular cultureEdit

In 1954, a Turkish film bearing the operation code name of the Turkish Brigade (Şimal Yıldızı), directed by Atıf Yılmaz and starring Ayhan Işık, which praised the deeds of the unit was released.[17]

The Turkish Brigade is featured in the Unification Church-funded 1982 film Inchon, which inaccurately depicts the Turkish Brigade as being involved in the Battle of Inchon (in reality the Brigade did not arrive until the month after the battle). Gabriele Ferzetti plays the commander of the Brigade.[citation needed]


  1. Timmons, Robert. "Allies To Honor Each Nation's Korean War Veterans". Retrieved 2009-04-15. 
  2. UNMCK, Nuri Pamir
  3. Şimal Yıldızı, Rahim Er, 21 September 2009, Türkiye
  4. Kutup Yıldızı - Kore Savaşı'nın 50. Yıldönümü ("North Star: the 50th Anniversary of the Korean War", TRT İzmir, Director: Ismail Ragıp Geçmen, 2000)
  5. Evanhoe, Ed. "The Turkish Brigade". Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  6. Department of Defense. "Allied Forces in the Korean War". Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  7. Turkish General Headquarters Military History Department Official Publications No:7. Turkish Military Forces Korean War Operations (language Turkish). 
  8. A.K. Dawson, Military History Magazine, December 1997
  9. 2nd Infantry Division, Korean War Veterans Alliance. "The 2nd Infantry Division in Korea". Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  10. Turkish General Staff. "Kumyangjang-ni Zaferi (25-27 Ocak 1951)" (in Turkish). Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  11. "Turkish Brigade in Korean War - Kunuri Battles (26–30 November 1950)", Turkish Times Weekly, (Tuesday, 9 January 2007). Retrieved on 2008-09-29.
  12. Ercan Haytoğlu, "KORE SAVAŞI VE DENİZLİ KORE ŞEHİTLERİ İLE GAZİLERİ", Pamukkale Üniversitesi Eğitim Fakültesi Dergisi Yıl:2002 (1) Sayı:11, p.94
  13. Non-U.S. recipients of U.S. gallantry awards
  14. Evanhoe, Ed. "The Turkish Brigade". Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  15. Timmons, Robert. "Allies To Honor Each Nation's Korean War Veterans". Retrieved 2009-04-15. 
  16. Walker, Jack D. "A brief account of the Korean War". Retrieved 2007-08-15. 
  17. Şimal Yıldızı, Sinematürk

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