Chinese Hordes and Human Waves - Lecture by Brian... Back to archive
14th September 2015

Brian Parritt opened our Lecture Programme for the year with a fascinating and personal account of the Korean War.  He served in the British Army for 36 years and throughout his service he held a variety of senior Intelligence and Security appointments all over the world, including Hong Kong, Sinagapore, Malaysia, Malta, Libya and Cyprus.  He is a parachutist and was wounded and commended for bravery as a Gunner Officer during the Korean War.  He was awarded the MBE during the ENOSIS Campaign in Cyprus and the CBE in Northern Ireland.

His talk was accompanied by a variety of slides not just showing the armed side of the conflict, but also photos of the local people trying to go about their lives. He was present at the end of the conflict and said 'one minute we were killing the Koreans and next we were exchanging things with them'. At the end of the talk the floor was opened up for questions and History students, who are about to study the Korean War, took advantage of this.

Brian brought along copies of two of the books he has written "The Intelligencers: The Story of Military Intelligence from the Middle Ages to 1929" and "Chinese Hordes and Human Waves - A Personal Perspective of the Korean War 1950-1953".  These were very well received and Brian went home with an empty suitcase, all copies sold and signed. Many thanks to him.

Brigadier Brian Parritt came to talk to us about his experiences in the Korean War, giving us both the historical background and a personal account. I, and I’m sure speak on behalf of everyone who attended, thoroughly enjoyed Brian’s talk. What was particularly great about it was that many of us didn’t have much prior knowledge about the Korean War and although it plays a part in our A –level Cold War course, it isn’t studied in all that much detail.

Brian gave such an animated account of his experience of the war, his stories were hilarious, heart-warming and at times deeply sad. My favourite story he told us took place at the end of the war; the Chinese set off what the British thought to be mortars, but instead there was a huge fireworks display. The story was made so much more special by the fact it was told by somebody who was there.

Brian also had a great display of photographs he had taken during the war, some of which were deeply moving and others which showed the light-hearted comradery of war. Brian was so engaging, at the end I think almost everyone wanted at least one signed copy of his book, which is no mean feat! Thank you so much Brian for coming to visit us and we hope you have a wonderful time celebrating your diamond wedding anniversary!

by Sophie