Kiwi's photos show real M*A*S*H

Last updated 13:41 26/07/2013
MASH
20th Century Fox

The cast of M*A*S*H. The comedy series didn't really reflect Kiwi experiences of the war, says former soldier Bob Jagger.

Bob Jagger
Bob Jagger / NZ History
Gunner Bob Jagger in Korea in 1952. Jagger's collection of wartime photos detail life in the war-torn peninsula.
Bob Jagger
Bob Jagger / NZ History
The village of Uijeongbu, which was the location for M*A*S*H.
Bob Jagger
Bob Jagger / NZ History
A Quad tractor tows a 25-pounder gun.

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Rare photographs taken by a Kiwi soldier during the Korean War have been released to mark the 60th anniversary since the war ground to an uneasy halt.

Inglewood man Bob Jagger, one of 6000 New Zealanders who served in the three-year war, has allowed his photos to be published for the first time, on the Ministry for Culture and Heritage's NZHistory website.

"Images Bob snapped with his trusty box Brownie camera give a rare, behind-the-scenes glimpse of everyday life for soldiers in Korea," said ministry chief historian Neill Atkinson.

One of Jagger's photos is of the village of Uijeongbu, which US producers used as the location for the long-running TV series M*A*S*H.

Jagger said the comedy, which centred on life in a military hospital during the war, "did not really ring true to our experiences in Korea".

"People in villages like Uijeongbu had to make use of anything that gave them shelter. The people had to put up with pretty rough conditions," he says on NZHistory site.

"They lived in cases or whatever they could find, such as packing cases or items they borrowed from the army. They had been knocked around a fair bit during the war and the land was pretty battered."

Jagger's photographs, which depict things such as war-torn Seoul, Korean propaganda, and soldiers enjoying their leave, are complemented by a commentary written with publisher Sue Corkill for his book, Korea: a Kiwi Gunner's Story, to be released this year.

Also on NZHistory are a series of oral history extracts from interviews ministry oral historian Pip Desmond recorded for her book, The War That Never Ended.

A group of 30 New Zealand veterans have travelled to South Korea to visit the demilitarised zone between North and South, and to commemorate the end of what some call "the forgotten war", which ended on July 27, 1953.

No peace treaty was ever signed and tensions on the Korean Peninsula remain high.

New Zealand military forces were involved in Korea from 1950 to 1957. The war claimed the lives of 47 Kiwi men, two of whom served in Australian forces. Another 79 were wounded.

Prime Minister John Key has joined the delegation and will be holding talks with South Korea's first female president, Park Geun Hye.

New Zealand was one of the first countries to respond to the United Nation's call for combat assistance to repel communist North Korea's invasion of the South in 1950.

The contribution helped New Zealand pursue its goal of establishing a security commitment with the United States, which was achieved with the Anzus Treaty being signed in 1951.

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