"Christmas Cargo": The Hungnam Evacuees
Auto Beauty Business Culture Dieting DIY Events Fashion Finance Food Freelancing Gardening Health Hobbies Home Internet Jobs Law Local Media Men's Health Mobile Nutrition Parenting Pets Pregnancy Products Psychology Real Estate Relationships Science Seniors Sports Technology Travel Wellness Women's Health

"Christmas Cargo": The Hungnam Evacuees

This Christmas cargo was not an importation cargo of a pleasingly plump, jolly, white-bearded man wearing a red coat with white collar and cuffs, white-cuffed red trousers, and black leather belt and boots who was popularly know as Santa Claus or St. Nicholas. The cargo contains not toys intended distribution at Christmas Eve but humans, refugees and military personnel.

“CHRISTMAS CARGO”: THE HUNGNAM EVACUEES

This Christmas cargo was not an importation cargo of a pleasingly plump, jolly, white-bearded man wearing a red coat with white collar and cuffs, white-cuffed red trousers, and black leather belt and boots who was popularly know as Santa Claus or St. Nicholas.

The cargo contains not gifts and toys intended distribution at Christmas Eve but humans, refugees and military personnel.

The cargo named as “Christmas cargo” carries over a hundred-thousand military personnel, 17,500 vehicles and 350,000 measurement tons of cargo including 14,000 Korean refugees. It was an evacuation mission of both U.N. military and North Korean civilians in the Korean War in Christmas Eve December 1950.

In the early 1940, Hungnam port was a site for the technology cyclotron as a part of a not so successful Japanese atomic research program. It was seized by the Soviet forces after the surrender of Japan in 1945. It was also a labor camp where prisoners were sentenced to hard labor, like packing bags of lime fertilizer for shipment.

The operation Christmas cargo was a culmination of North Korean’s Battle of Chosin Reservoir in which the embattled UN troops fought their way out of a Chinese trap.

On the 25th of November 1950, a day after the UN and the Republic of Korea forces began the offensive, they expected would finish the union of Korea, but Communist China countered with a tremendous and a successful offensive of its own. Within only a few days the Chinese bombardment reversed the UN and Republic of Korea northward drive in central and western North Korea, destroying numerous South Korean troops, badly destructing up the U.S. Second Division and forcing the rest of the UN command to rapidly back away southwards to escape defeat.

The Hungnam Port was the site of a major evacuation of both the UN troops and North Korean civilians in the late December 1950. Approximately 100,000 military personnel and civilians including war materials were loaded into different merchant ships and military transports over the weeks leading up to Christmas 1950.

Three days before the December 25, Captain LaRue of SS Meredith Victory was delivering military supplies to the beleaguered Hungnam port, a rough estimate of nearly 100,000 Korean refugees had gathered hoping to ride ships evacuating UN command soldiers and war facilities to safety in the southern port Pusan.

Exactly on December 23, the SS Meredith Victory navigate south with no doctor or interpreter, without mine-detecting tools, without lighting and no heaters and even sanitation on hold. The ship’s only ammunition is the pistol of Captain La Rue.

With this courageous sailing with its brave captain, the SS Meredith Victory is the last remaining ships, over 14,000 refugees remained. LaRue made the decision to unload nearly all the arms and supplies on the ship in order to accommodate as many refugees as possible.

He ordered the ship exchanged to hold the refugee passengers and was able to evacuate them out of Hungnam only hours away from the advancing Chinese and North Korean communist forces.

During Christmas day, after finishing loading the last gear guard and the persisting port operations personnel, the Hungnam evacuation ended with a “big blast!” The defending troops pulled out of the beach and after a few minutes, the demolition order was given and Hungnam’s waterfront erupted, destroying the whole port facilities.

Though almost forgotten today, “The Ship of Miracles,” merchant vessel SS Meredith Victory served in the Hungnam evacuation, among other ships, she herself rescued more than 14,000 Korean refugees in a single sea-lift, although never meant to carry more than twelve passengers. She was loaded with jet fuel, under threat of impending attacks, in unknown mined waters and abrasive Korean winter.

Every one of the evacuees made safe landing in Pusan on Christmas Eve 1950, including five infants born en route before heading to its final destination, Koje Isalnd.

Reference:

http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/events/kowar/50-chin/hungnam.htm

Primary Image Source - http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/images/h95000/h95597.jpg

Need an answer?
Get insightful answers from community-recommended
experts
in History on Knoji.
Would you recommend this author as an expert in History?
You have 0 recommendations remaining to grant today.
Comments (16)
Ranked #35 in History

thank you very much for this excellent piece

Well shared history lesson with much valuable detail. I will come back with a vote, however wanted to read this now.

Ranked #13 in History

Thanks Carol and Roberta for the read and comments-appreciated much.

Great job! Voted up!

Ranked #1 in History

A brilliant history, Ron.

This is na piece of informstiv writing.Thanks Sir

Ranked #44 in History

I had read several accounts of this historic even in the past, but never one told in such a straight forward manner. Very nice job Ron.

Sad tale for me. Heard it here first. A good history write, at least some of them made it.

A great article Ron. Thanks for the information.

A sad cargo...

Ranked #80 in History

Great history lesson, not what I was expecting, very sad.

Another well written piece

Ranked #13 in History

Thanks everyone, wishing you all a merry holidays.

Returning with a well deserved vote up. Merry Christmas, friend!

Ranked #13 in History

Many thanks Roberta.

Moving and extremely well written. Thank you, dear Ron.

ARTICLE DETAILS
RELATED ARTICLES
RELATED CATEGORIES
ARTICLE KEYWORDS