The Danish Hospital Ship



[This information was supplied to The Korean War Educator by Hoy Helm of Garden Grove, California.  It was taken from a newspaper article dated Thursday, September 28, 2000.  The name of the newspaper was the "Bien".]





The Jutlandia was built as a combined cargo and passenger ship in Denmark in 1934 for The East Asiatic Company Ltd.  During the second world war, she was "trapped" in Danish waters and had to be laid up.  Fortunately, she was not seized by the German occupation forces, since they did not have the diesel oil needed to sail it.  The vessel was rebuilt after the war and resumed normal civil service, sailing from Denmark to the Far East and to U.S.A. 


After the North Korean assault on South Korea on the 25th of June 1950, Denmark offered the United Nations and South Korea help.  The U.N. decided to accept a fully-equipped Danish Hospital Ship, to be at the disposal of the allied forces in South Korea.  It was, in fact, a civil ship run by the Danish Foreign Ministry under the U.N. command and sailing under the Red Cross.  The hospital, as well as the crew, were manned with voluntary Danish personnel. 


After some quick investigations, the Danish committee decided that the M/S Jutlandia was the most suitable ship available in a hurry.  The ship owner, the East Asiatic Company, had immediately given its consent to transfer the ship to U.N. service, but the ship was on its way to New York when this decision was made.  There had been no time to inform the master, so he was rather surprised when arriving to New York seeing the quay full of photographers and journalists who had already got the news directly from the U.N.  The master was the highly decorated and renowned captain C.M. Kondrup (now deceased), who would continue as master of the Jutlandia during all three years service in Korean waters. 


The ship was rushed home and as soon as the ship arrived at the shipyard in Denmark, all possible staff worked day and night in November and December 1950 to transform it into a hospital ship. 


On the 23rd of January 1951, they ran up the flags of U.N., Dannebrog (name of the Danish flag in Danish), and the Red Cross--the three flags the ship was to fly for nearly three years--and left Denmark from the port of Copenhagen from the most prominent quay, Langelinie, where the Jutlandia Memorial, made in granite from South Korean mountains and supported by Korea’s veterans, is now placed. 


The ship was then probably the most modern hospital in Denmark and had wards with a total of 356 hospital beds (during normal service), 4 (+1) operating rooms, X-ray-, eye-, and dental clinics, laboratories, pharmacy and other specialized departments.  The hospital had a staff of 91 persons: professors, doctors, specialists, nurses and assistants.  The ships crew amounted to 97 from the captain to youngest sailor.  The head of the "expedition" during all three years was the Danish Commodore Kai Hammerich. 


After arriving in Korea, Jutlandia was first stationed in Pusan, but in 1952, after the ship was fitted with a helicopter-deck aft, it was transferred to the bay of Inchon where it had to anchor in the roads together with two American hospital ships--one of which was the U.S.S. Consolation--and lots of ordinary supply ships. 


As the first allied hospital unit serving in Korea, the hospital staff of Jutlandia demanded permission from the Allied Staff—contrary to the then normal procedure—to be allowed to handle Korean patients, civil as well as military, whenever it was possible.  After some discussions this just claim was granted on the condition that in case of severe fighting, the soldiers should have first priority and civil patients had to be sent ashore.  Fortunately this only happened once, except naturally when the ship had to sail for Japan with wounded soldiers and for necessary repair and maintenance. 


During the service in Korea, the hospital treated 4,981 patients, mostly severely wounded soldiers from 24 different nations.  Further, about 6,000-7,000 civilian Koreans were treated onboard Jutlandia or by the Danish hospital staff in most often very primitive wards and first-aid stations ashore.  Especially very many children were treated.  The most prominent civil patient on board Jutlandia was Korea’s first president, Syngman Rhee. 


Sometime after the ceasefire on the 27th of July 1953, Jutlandia had to return home, filled with wounded soldiers, mostly Europeans.  But before the ship left Korean waters, all the hospital equipment that could be spared was left behind as well as some doctors.  The same was the case with the Norwegian MASH and the Swedish hospital department from Pusan.  With this very much-needed help, the ground was laid for "The Scandinavian Educational Hospital" in Seoul, later to be taken over completely by Korea as the National Medical Center, NMC. 


On January the 4th, 1965, the ship departed from Copenhagen on its final trip to Bilbao to be delivered to the ship-breaker after some 30 years of glorious service.  




A Letter to the Editor ("Bien" newspaper)

About the Jutlandia


Dear Poul Andersen,


Thank you very much for the beautiful picture of Jutlandia in your September 28th Bien.  It brought back many wonderful memories from my 2 ˝ years on the ship on both the first and the second trip to Korea. 


We left Denmark on the 23rd of January 1951 and after about five weeks on our way, we arrived in Japan.  We stayed in Japan for a couple of days to take on supplies and other items we could not get in Korea, as we had to prepare for a few months in Korea before we could return to Japan. 


I remember the first time we arrived in Pusan, Korea, we didn’t know what to expect.  We had never been on a hospital ship before, so we had prepared for a little of everything.  I thought we probably would have sick and wounded soldiers waiting for us on the dock.  I had been very busy in various areas of the ship as I was in the supply department and had other duties too, but everybody went up to have a look when we were attached to the dock. 


We were surprised because a very large Army band was waiting for us and started playing the Danish national anthem.  We were very moved that they had taken the time to learn to play our anthem.  After that it sure changed, because they started to play: "If I knew you were coming, I’d have baked a cake," etc.  After that they entertained us for about one hour, I think.  We didn’t know if we should laugh or cry, so we did a little of both. 


As shown in your article, the USS Consolation had a reunion on the Queen Mary and they were trying to invite people who had been on the Jutlandia.  So I faxed a note to Bien and were then connected with Ted Bobinski, the chairman for the reunion committee.  I was not able to contact Ane Marie Gore, who was a nurse on the Jutlandia, and was already on the Queen Mary.  Ted Bobinski was just wonderful to talk with and even though we had missed the first day of the fun, he wanted me to attend the next two day’s activities, and Nancy came along.  We had a wonderful time and met so many interesting people, as we were also invited to join him and his wife plus Ane Marie Gore at his table.  Thank you very much, Poul Anderson, for making this possible. – Hoy Holm, Huntington Beach





(written in the Danish language)