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Dannebrog during world war one

Firstly, apologies for not speaking Danish.
I would like to find out more about what Dannebrog did
during the period 1914-1918.
My grandfather, Kai Jespersen, served on Dannebrog at that time, and he left a story of a transatlantic convoy, during which he witnessed the sinking of a German submarine.
My questions are these;
Why, given Denmark's neutrality, would Dannebrog have been on such a convoy?
From what I have read online, I get the impression that she may not have had transatlantic range.
If anyone can tell me more about this, and particularly about my grandfather's service, I would be most grateful.
Regards and thanks,
Michael Bickley.

Re: Dannebrog during world war one

According to this site (Danish only) she was laid up during WWI.

Re: Dannebrog during world war one

So, if the royal yacht Dannebrog was laid up, was there another vessel of the same name?
I'm still a litle confused, I have a photograph of my grandfather in naval uniform, with Dannebrog on his cap-band.
I'd really like to know more.

Re: Dannebrog during world war one

Maybe it was the shipping company "Dannebrog"


Re: Dannebrog during world war one

I think I may have mis-translated the original story,given my woeful lack of Danish.
What I now think is that he served on Dannebrog before the war, but had then joined another ship
called, I think, Sarmatia by the time of the convoy incident.
I would still like to know more, but I don't know what records survive.

Re: Dannebrog during world war one

The RDN has never had a ship called Sarmatia.
There was a Finnish Steamer with that name that did sail during WWI.
Also, Germany was waging unrestricted submarine warfare so everyone sailed in convoys if they could since neutrality didn't help.


Re: Dannebrog during world war one

You should obtain your grandfather's Danish naval records - these will state what Danish naval vessels your grandfather may have served on, and the dates on which he served on these vessels.

If your grandfather was a naval conscript, and not a permanent member of the Danish navy, his naval records only consist perhaps of a couple of pages - date of induction, ships served on, etc. - but that is enough for you.

Merchant shipping companies at the time of your grandfather's life often had their own shipping company uniforms, and these uniforms have been mistaken for Danish naval uniforms.

You could post a copy of the photo of your grandfather in uniform, and people may be able to advise you whether this is a Danish naval uniform or not.

How do you know when the photo of your grandfather was taken?

I know that ordinary Danish naval conscripts - in contrast to what might be considered to be Danish navy "regulars"- served on the Dannebrog, usually for short periods of time, e.g., a summer sailing season. Danish navy conscripts of this era typically served an aggregate period of time of approximately 9 months.

I imagine that, like the significant case in World War II, Danish merchant shipping sailed for the Allies in World War I - Danish merchant shipping was probably as ubiquitous in serving the Allies in WWI as in WWII.

A lot of Danish merchant sailors died serving on Danish merchant ships sailing for the Allies in WWII, sailing in the war zone. Most of these deaths were probably caused by military action.

The idea of the Danish royal yacht sailing in a war zone seems to be highly improbable, regardless of the Dannebrog's sailing radius - I doubt the royal yacht Dannebrog was equipped to carry cargo, and I doubt that important personages (as passengers) would have been risked to exposure to war action.

Parenthetically, U.S. President John F. Kennedy had a model of the current Danish sail training ship named the Dannebrog (built prior to WWII), which trained Danish merchant sailors,in his presidential office at the White House - this Dannebrog was not a Danish naval ship. This Dannebrog trained about 5,000 U.S. sailors during WWII.

Re: Dannebrog during world war one

Hi Eric, You are mentioning at trainingvessel named "Dannbrog" who trained kadets for the U.S.A, during WWII.
Perhaps you mean the fullrigged trainingship "Danmark", built 1938, and still going strong.
During WWII she was stationed in U.S waters ,helping educating seafares.
As far as i remember she also saild under star and stripes in that period.
I myself were kadet on Denmark for 6 months in 1978
butiful ship.Her participation and story in WWII of course make me proud
best regards

Re: Dannebrog during world war one

Sarmatia was a danish-owned ship acc. to this list from Ellis Island Foundation



Re: Dannebrog during world war one

Olav -

Thanks for your note about being a cadet on the DANNEBROG. Yes, I was speaking of the full-rigged DANNEBROG, built in 1938.

I live in metropolitan Washington D.C., and the DANNEBROG often visits our waterfront, right near the U.S. capital. I have seen her there several times. During one of these visits, I heard the DANNEBROG's captain speak publicly - he may have been interviewed for our local TV - and he had a terrific sense of humor.

Because the U.S. President John F. Kennedy had a model of the DANNEBROG in his presidential office at the White House, I have often wondered if President Kennedy was one of the 5,000 U.S. sailors who received training on the DANNEBROG during WW II.

Re: Dannebrog during world war one

Hello again Eric, I have heard the same story, about the model at J.F.K `s office.
But i think you are wrong, the name of the full rigged trainingship , who trained aprox. 5000 kadets are not DANNEBROG, but DANMARK.
Dannebrog(Same name as our nationalflag) are the Royal Yacht for her majesty, the queen ,and members of her Royal family.
Of course, like allways trough history, the crew are from the Royal Danish Navy.
When i was kadet aboard "Danmark" we visited , among several other countries the virgin Ilands, a lot of your fellow americans knew Danmark, also from WWII, and gave us a nice and warm welcome, and hosted us very nicly.
Best regards
Olav Østergaard

Re: Dannebrog during world war one

Olav - Yes, you are right, the DANMARK. I am getting rusty!

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