Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence

Lest We Forget
British Legion
The Royal British Legion

April to May 1949

H.M.S. Amethyst (Lieutenant-Commander Skinner) sailed from Shanghai on 19 April 1949 to relieve H.M.S. Consort at Nanking. She was fired at on 20 April 1949 at around 0900hrs, 60 miles from Nanking; she was grounded on Rose Island with heavy casualties, about 60 crew landed and many made their way to Shanghai with Chinese help.

H.M.S. Consort was ordered from Nanking to assist H.M.S. Amethyst; H.M.S. Black Swan was ordered from Shanghai to Kiang Yin, 40 miles short of Amethyst. The Consort arrived around 1500hrs, but was hit heavily (20 April) and was unable to take Amethyst in tow, she continued downstream. H.M.S. London was then ordered to proceed up the Yangtse and meet H.M.S. Black Swan and H.M.S. Consort at Kiang Yin around 2000hrs. H.M.S. Consort was too damaged and was ordered to Shanghai.

On the 21 April at circa 0200hrs, H.M.S. Amethyst was refloated and anchored two miles above Rose Island. Later in the morning, H.M.S. London and H.M.S. Black Swan tried to close Amethyst but came under heavy fire, which was returned, and there were some casualties. Both ships returned to Kiang Yin where they were fired at again. Damaged and with more casualties, they proceeded to Shanghai. That evening, a naval officer and a R.A.F. doctor reached Amethyst by Sunderland flying boat.

On the night of 21/22 April H.M.S. Amethyst evacuated more wounded and moved ten miles up river to evacuate more. She now had three naval officers, one R.A.F. doctor, 52 ratings and 8 Chinese on onboard. On the 22 April, in the afternoon, Lt-Cdr Kerans, Assistant Naval Attache at Nankin arrived to assume command. Also on the 22 April, another attempt was made to land by a Sunderland but she was driven off by artillery fire. Amethyst moved a further four miles up river.

She remained there for three months before escaping on the night of 30/31 July. HMS Concord was present at this time.

Newspaper Reports

Extracts have been taken from various papers around the country, which are listed in chronological order, to tell the story. There are other articles to be found in other newspapers but the intention here is to show the story but not all the articles.

Extract from Belfast News-Letter - Monday 11 April 1949, page 5:


Communists driven back

NANKING. Sunday. Chinese Government forces have repulsed a Communist attempt to cross the Yangste near Kwayang, south-west of the strategic city of Anking, the Nationalist Military News Agency claimed to-day.

The attempt was made at dawn yesterday, when small craft set out under artillery cover, the agency said. Government artillery prevented landing, but the Communists continued to bombard the south bank of the river opposite Hwayang.

Peiping radio declared that three Communist armies were actively preparing to cross the Yangtse with an aim of realising peace on the Communist terms.— Reuter.

Extract from Dundee Evening Telegraph - Wednesday 20 April 1949, page 1:

Two British Warships Under Fire In Yangtse

Twenty of the crew of the British sloop Amethyst were casualties when she sustained heavy bombardment on the Yangtse River to-day.

A Chinese spokesman said the firing came from Chinese Communist batteries on the north bank of the river.

The British destroyer Consort raced to the scene from Nanking and reached the Amethyst as she lay aground off Rose Island, 15 miles east of Chinkiang.

The Consort also came under heavy fire from field artillery, to which she replied effectively.

The Consort was damaged by Communist shelling and her crew suffered casualties. With guns blazing, she retired to safe anchorage at Kiangyin, Chinese Government stronghold on the south bank.

The cruiser London and the sloop Black Swan are also on the way to the spot.

The Amethyst left Shanghai yesterday with supplies for the British Embassy in Nanking, and anchored overnight at Kiangyin, about 82 miles upstream, and just over 100 miles from Nanking.

According to a Chinese Air Headquarters spokesman, the Amethyst came under Communist bombardment at 8 a.m. to-day (local time) between Kowan and Sankiangying, two Yangtse north bank strongholds recently captured by Communist forces.

Amethyst is a 1490-ton sloop of the modified Black Swan class, and has a complement of 192. She was launched in May 1943, and completed in the following November. Her armament includes six four-inch guns and eight two-pounder pompoms.

She is commanded by Lieut.-Comdr. B. M. Skinner, R.N.

Commander lan Robertson, of Consort, was awarded the D.S.C. in 1941 for gallantry and distinguished services operations in Greek waters, and a bar for outstanding gallantry in the battle of Crete.

Extract from Derby Daily Telegraph - Thursday 21 April 1949, page 1:


AS Chinese Government sources to-day officially confirmed that the Communists had rejected Government proposals for a draft peace programme, it was reported Nanking that several thousand Communists had crossed the Yangtse south of Wuhu, 60 miles south-west of the capital.

The Communists' leader, Mao Tse-Tung, and Commander-in-Chief Chu-Teh to-day issued an order to all their battle-front commanders to "advance bravely."

Extract from Coventry Evening Telegraph - Thursday 21 April 1949:

Under Heavy Fire in Dash to Help the Battered Amethyst

THE British heavy cruiser London to-day received heavy damage and suffered some casualties when she came under fire from shore batteries in the Yangtse - China's front line battle river.

The London, which had anchored overnight near the Chinese Government stronghold of Kiangyin, had been due to go upstream to the battered British sloop Amethyst, to escort her with her 17 dead aboard to Shanghai.

In Shanghai, the Amethyst will join the destroyer Consort, which lost nine dead going to the Amethyst's assistance yesterday, when the sloop came under heavy shell fire on her mission to assist British nationals in Nanking.

The London signalled Nanking to-day, a Reuter Nanking despatch said, that she had come under heavy Communist artillery fire from the north bank of the Yangtse.

She was hit and damaged, and was returning to her overnight anchorage point at Klangyin, the signal added.

Reports of damage to the Black Swan were not confirmed in Nanking, but it was thought probable that she was accompanying the London and was returning to Klangyin.

A naval spokesman in Shanghai said that the Black Swan, due back in Shanghai to-night, returned fire when she came under heavy bombardment today, as she steamed up river with the cruiser London in an effort to reach the Amethyst.

Both the London and the Black Swan were damaged.

The spokesman said that the captain of the London had signalled that he had ordered the withdrawal of the cruiser and the Black Swan "as all signs of peaceful intent were, disregarded."

“It is clearly impossible to bring the Amethyst down river in such circumstances," the captain added.

A Sunderland flying boat left Shanghai this afternoon in an attempt to land two doctors and medical supplies near the Amethyst.

Consort at Shanghai

The British destroyer Consort docked at Shanghai this morning with her nine dead and three seriously wounded.

Two of the 1,710-ton ship's 4.5 inch guns were out of action and the ship's hull and superstructure spattered with shrapnel dents and holed by shells.

The Consort was repeatedly struck at 500 yards range as she passed under heavy fire of many north bank batteries, according to members of the ship's company. The Consort returned the Communist fire and silenced at least nine of their guns.

Ratings said that they could see the Communist guns in action as they were firing at the river bank level. Their ship was within range of the guns for about an hour and 45 minutes.

United States sailors and marines at Shanghai, at the invitation of the British, assisted to bring ashore the dead and wounded.

Chinese and United States ambulances, and Chinese nurses, helped in taking the wounded to a hospital outside the city.

'Stop Firing' Requests

Sir Ralph Stevenson, Ambassador to China, has instructed British consular representatives in Peiping to inform the highest competent Communist authorities “by whatever means possible" of the firing upon the Amethyst and Consort, and to ask that their military commanders along the Yangtse be instructed immediately to desist from such firing, it was officially announced in Nanking to-day.

A subsequent message emphasised the urgent need for medical attention for the Amethyst‘s casualties, reiterating the request for instructions to prevent further firing on "these ships of the British Navy engaged in a peaceful and humanitarian task."

Extract from Dundee Courier - Thursday 21 April 1949, page 3:

Admiral Lord Fraser Tells Of 2.25 a.m. Phone Call

Commander Pringle, of the British Naval Attache's office in Shanghai, reports that 17 of the crew of the British sloop Amethyst are dead and 20 others seriously wounded as a result of fire from shore batteries on the Yangtse River.

An Admiralty spokesman stated last night that aboard H.M.S. Consort there are nine killed and three seriously injured. Next-of-kin are being informed.

The British destroyer Consort fought, her way to the rescue of the 1375-ton Amethyst, aground and damaged in the Yangtse.

The destroyer, one of three British warships which raced to help the Amethyst, fired back when she came under heavy field-gun fire — believed to be from the Communists — as she steamed down river from Nanking.

Coming from Shanghai, in the opposite direction, was the 10,000-ton, eight-inch gun cruiser London, led the sloop Black Swan.

The Amethyst, with a complement of 192 and mounting four-inch guns, was fired on during the night halfway between Shanghai and Nanking as she steamed between opposing Chinese armies on the river banks.

She left Shanghai on Tuesday for the Chinese capital on what a British Embassy official called "a humane and peaceful mission to relieve the Consort in providing protection for Britons in Nanking threatened by the approaching tide of war."'

The Amethyst, which had large Union Jacks painted on her sides and flew the White Ensign, was found by the Consort off Rose Island, 80 miles east of Nanking.

Reports from Chinkiang that she was about two-thirds submerged were discounted in Nanking. Another report said she was aground near the bank and not lower in the water than she should be.

The Consort reported no crew casualties when she replied to shore fire after reaching the Amethyst.

Chinese Government officers who watched the attack said the sloop got under way again after the first attack. Communist artillery immediately -opened fire again. After that they could not see what happened.


Lord Fraser, First Sea Lord, gave report of events which followed the firing on the sloop Amethyst. Here is what he told a conference at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich.

At twenty-five minutes past two this morning (Wednesday) my telephone bell rang alongside my bed and I was told that the Amethyst was aground in the Yangtse, that she was under fire and had suffered casualties. A little later communication with the Amethyst ceased.


Our principle is to leave it to the man on the spot, except where you can give him assistance, so that all the Admiralty had to do was to inform the Foreign Office to get in touch with our Ambassador, to inform the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence, and then waited to receive reports from the senior officer out there.

A little later the flag officer gave his dispositions, which showed that he had moved the Consort from Nanking to assist the Amethyst, and the Black Swan from Shanghai, and that he was moving the eight inch gun cruiser London.

We have not had much more news, except that, the Consort has been in action. She silenced the opposition for bit and went up river to turn round and came under fire and suffered some few casualties.

In the meantime the Ambassador had got in touch with the Nationalists and Communists explaining that the Amethyst was going to relieve the Consort at Nanking and was carrying supplies for the Ambassador and his staff in Nanking.

Fired In Self-Defence

Earlier, an Admiralty statement said: The destroyer H.M.S. Consort — Commander I. G. Robertson, D.S.C., R.N. — steaming down river from Nanking, has reached H.M.S. Amethyst — Lieut.-Comdr. B. Skinner, R.N.— which is aground on the north side of Rose Island.

The Consort has come under heavy fire from field artillery, to which she has replied effectively.

The frigate H.M.S. Black Swan — Capt. A. D. H. Jay, D.S.O., D.S.C., R.N. — is also proceeding up-river from Shanghai to the assistance of the Amethyst, but the time of her arrival is not yet known.

A further statement by the Admiralty last night said that the cruiser London — flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A. C. G. Madden, acting C.-in-C. Far East stations — was in the vicinity, and proceeding to the scene.

H.M.S. Consort reports that she has been fired at by field artillery to which, in self-defence, she replied. She has reported superficial damage and some casualties.

All the ships have been engaged in their normal peaceful mission of standing by in case evacuation of British and Commonwealth nationals from Shanghai and Nanking should become necessary.

A statement by the Admiraltv later said: — Amethyst is still aground, but the crew are making attempts to repair her hull damage in the hope of refloating her.

It appears that some of the ship's company have been landed, possibly because of damage to living spaces.

No firm details are yet available about casualties. Such information as is received will be notified immediately to the nearest relatives, the Admiralty statement concluded. An Admiralty spokesman stated that the Amethyst has been refloated, using her own resources.


Vice-Admiral Madden has been Acfing Commander-in-Chief in Far East since Vice- Admiral Brind, commander-in-chief, left for Britain to take part in " Exercise Trident," due to begin at Greenwich on April 25.

Vice-Admiral Madden, who is 54, commanded the battleship Anson from November 1944 until March 1946, and earlier in the war was in command of the cruiser Birmingham. After the war he was for two years Deputy Controller and Director of Naval Equipment, with headquarters at Bath.

Extract from Aberdeen Press and Journal - Friday 22 April 1949, page 1:

Reds Breach Yangtse River Line

COMMUNIST shock troops have breached a twenty-mile section of the Yangtse River line, it is reported in Nanking, and 30.000 have swarmed across. The main crossings were made in the Wuhu area, where the Yangtse—now running high because of flood waters bends sharply as it turns to the south from Nanking. Bitter fighting is going on. Defence outposts only three miles from Nanking are believed to be in Communist hands. Mao Tse-Tung, the Communist leader, has ordered his troops to round up all people on the Communist "war criminal" list. Presidents of the five main Government councils have decided to speed evacuation of the Government to Canton in South China.

Extract from Dundee Courier - Friday 22 April 1949, page 2:


Later news of the fate of British warships and their crews, caught in the Chinese battle for the crossing of the Yangtse River, adds to the gravity of the position.

Not only have the two vessels sent to the relief of the stranded frigate Amethyst been unable to reach her and take off her wounded, but they were themselves subjected to heavy fire from the Communists' batteries on the north bank. As a result the cruiser London has had 15 men killed and wounded.

In all the four British warships involved have lost 41 dead and 51 wounded. The London has now gone back to Shanghai somewhat damaged.

Her captain reports that “all signs of peaceful intent" on the part of the British ships having been disregarded, any continued advance up-river would have cost heavy casualties. Certainly there has been a bad miscalculation of the attitude of the Chinese Communist army.

Its commander is treating British naval vessels as hostile, and in the full-scale battle he has now launched after such long delay—to cross the Yangtse and surround Nanking, the Nationalist Government capital, recognises no right of passage for our ships.

This high-banded action must certainly be challenged.

The difficulty meantime is to establish communication with the Communist leaders. Their North China Government is installed at Pekin (Peiping), and our Ambassador at Nanking has instructed our consular representatives at once to protest to the Communist authorities "by whatever means possible."

The demand is that the firing on British ships in the Yangtse shall be ordered to cease. But the whole relationship of the Communist forces to British rights and interests in a civil war in which we have no part has to be cleared up without delay.

Three thousand Communist troops have now stormed across the great river—barrier to the rich cities of South China —and are beginning to advance to attack Nanking.

To resist any continued disregard of British claims will demand strong and determined steps with sufficient strength behind them.

Last night's mission by a British embassy official to cross the river and seek local truce from the local Communist commander opposite Nanking is courageous. Much more, however, will be needed.

The Nationalist Government is quitting Nanking for Canton, and the battle for the present capital may not last long. But the crossing of the Yangtse marks a critical phase in the Communist bid to rule all China. Their offer of peace terms may yet be renewed and the Nationalist Government be persuaded to reach a settlement.

Its troops are badly demoralised after the many months of desertions to the conquering "Red" forces in North China. The Kuomintang politicians have for years made a wretched showing in waging war and in civil government. Their corruption and inefficiency have squandered the American military supplies they have long received and finally exhausted the patience of the U.S. State Department.

America has washed her hands of them. What Communist control may mean if it extends to the great cities and ports of South China is an enigma. Any direct share Moscow has had in the campaign is still a mystery, though the Chinese Communist leaders are Moscow-trained.

The exhausted Chinese people may, as Mr Acheson says, desire peace at any price. But the temper of the Communist Command shown in the deliberate attacks on British warships is ominous of the new Red peril that threatens Asia and world peace.

Extract from the Gloucestershire Echo 23 April 1949:


Men and women amid a large foreign gathering wept unashamedly to¬day as 23 of the officers and men of the Royal Navy killed in the Yangtse bombardments were buried in the International Cemetery here, says a Shanghai dispatch.

During the service the R.A.F. Sunderland which was on its way to examine the trapped warship Amethyst droned overhead.

Chinese, British and other foreign flags flew at half-mast to-day to mark the funeral.

Scores of wreaths were received at the British Consulate-General and other reception points.


Those buried were 12 from the cruiser London, 10 from the destroyer Consort, and one from the Amethyst. Mourners included British, foreign and Chinese diplomats and service chiefs. Rites were in accordance with the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches.

The Australian sloop Shoalhaven provided a firing party and the Royal Marine band from the London led the procession to the graveside.

The escort and mourning parties were drawn from shipmates of the victims aboard the London and the Consort.

Those buried were:

H.M.S. London: Ordy. Seaman Sydney O. Jones (18), of Dagenham, Essex; Marine Lawrence H. Jarvis (21), of Kentish Town, London; A.B. Edgar G. Harrison (29), of Cromer (Norfolk); Ordy. Seaman John C. Lane (20), pf Wood grren, London; Ordy. Seaman Stanley Walsingham (18), of King’s Heath, Birmingham; A.B. James P. Foley, (24), of Glasgow; A.B. Harry Shelton (21), of Openshaw, Manchester; Chief Petty Officer Patrick Stowers (33), of Portsmouth; A.B. Arthur W. Ellwood (23), of Ely, Cambridgeshire; A.B. Willuiam G. Pulling (25), of Knutton, Stoke-on-Trent; Leading Seaman James H. Arkwll (31), of Gillingham, Kent; Petty Officer Alec Roper (27), of Carshalton, Surrey.

H.M.S. Consort: Petty Officer Albert Norton, of Brechin, Angus; Radio Electrician John C. Akhurst, of Dartmouth; Chief petty Officer Maurice J. Gurney, of Torquay; Telegraphist Denis Iredale, of Nottingham; Stoker Mechanic Raymond Gifford, of Bristol; Electrician’s Mate J. Tobin, of Birkenhead; Leading Seaman William Moir, of Glasgow; Ordy. Seaman Sidney Jenkinson, Liverpool, A.B. Christopher Hutton, of Birmingham, Ordy. Seaman Charles Victor Treay, of Birmingham.

No details were available pf the Amethyst rating buried to-day.

Relatives of Able Seaman Albert Driscoll (20) received news to-day that he had died on April 20, while serving in the Amethyst. His home was with his brother, Mr. W. Driscoll, of West Pafford avenue, Torquay.

An 18-years-old Swansea boy, Ord. Seaman Glyn Thomas, of Railway-terrace, Landore, was also killed while serving on the Amethyst.

His widowed mother to-day received the news in a telegram from R.N. Barracks, Devonport.

When the Amethyst went overseas about two months ago it was his first sea-going voyage.


At the request of relatives, the body of Lieut-Commander B.M. Skinner, captain of the Amethyst, was to be buried at sea from the Consort after the left Shanghai tonight.

Britons in Shanghai have opened a fund for the relief of dependants of the Yangtze victims.

The British-owned “North China Daily News," opening the subscription list, to-day stated:

“These men died as surely for their country as if they had laid down their lines in the anger of war.

"The debt which the nation owes them and the debt which the British community of this city owes them are beyond the measured expression of mere words.”

"Curse of Sinister Doctrine"

In an editorial headed "Murder on the Yangtse,” the "New York Times” to-day said: “This tragedy seems to show the Chinese Communists are as reckless of human life asa their Russian brethren.

“Apologies and even reparations could not give back life to men unnecessarily slaughtered, nor could they revive the hope that the Chinese Communist would somehow turn out to be more human and more democratic than the Russian variety.

“The curse of a sinister doctrine falls on China, too."

Extract from The Times (London, England), Saturday, 23 April 1949; pg. 3; Issue 51363:


Lord Hall, First Lord of the Admiralty, spoke in Cardiff yesterday of the gallantry shown by officers and men of the Royal Navy during the incident in the Yangtze. He said that 39 very brave men had lost their lives, and a number had been seriously wounded, in an unprovoked attack which came without warning and which was deliberately carried out, for what purpose the authorities had yet to learn.

The purpose of the ship voyaging up the Yangtze was to relieve another ship at Nanking. The Royal Navy had for some time kept a ship there to give some security to British people and for communications purposes.

Lord Hall said that the crew of the Amethyst displayed a magnificent gallantry indeed, it was a real epic. "There they were," he said "fixed right in the mouth of the river, fired on, and with dying and wounded lying around, and the remainder of the crew were able to repair and refloat the ship to enable her to take-off, and indeed, to seek safer waters. It is an incident which never should have taken place, but it does indeed indicate the inhuman feelings of those who were responsible for such a catastrophe. I am sure all will join with me in expressing our sympathy with the bereaved and with the wounded who have suffered as a result of this incident."


The Admiralty announced yesterday the following casualties sustained in H.M.S. London on Thursday :—

KILLED—C.P.O. Patrick J. Stowers (Portsmouth); P.O. Alec B. Roper (Carshalton, Surrey); Leading Seaman James J. Arkell (Gillingham, Kent): A.B. William G. Pulling (Knulson, Stoke-on.Trent ); Ordinary Seaman Sidney O. Jones (Dagenham, Essex); A.B. Arthur W. Ellwood (Ely. Cambs); Ordinary Seaman John C. Lane (Wood Green, London); Ordinary Seaman Stanley W. Walsingham (King's Heath, Birmingham); A.B. Harry Shelton (Openshaw, Manchester): A.B. Edgar G. Harrison (Cromer); A.B. James P. Foley (GIasgow); and Marine Lawrence H. Jarvis (Kentish Town, London).

DANGEROUSLY INJURED. — Lieutenant-Commander Charles R. Grice-Hutchinson (Upton-on-Severn; Mechanic J James K. Wells (Dumfries); A.B. Walter Prescott (Cowley. Oxford); Ordinary Seaman Geoffrey G. Warwick (Openshsaw, Manchester): P.O. Airman (Photo) William R. Hipwell (Loughborough); and Marine William Fisher (Dundee).

SERIOUSLY INJURED.—Lieutenant Robert S. S. Ingham (Dalbeattie, Scotland); P.O. Frederick Bansall-Allan (Berwick-on-Tweed); Stoker Artificer Robert Banfield (Ealing, London); A.B. Charles F. Sabin (Ladywood, Birmingham): Stoker Mechanic Ronald Pike (Southall, Middlesex); Stoker Artificer Stuart Morris (London); P.O. Writer Edwin J. Wilmshurst (Streatham Vale, London): A.B. Edwin H. Clark (Newport, Mon); and Norman G. Warr (Swindon).

The Admiralty also announced yesterday that Ordinary Seaman S. Jenkinson, of H.M.S. Consort, who was included among the seriously injured, has since died.

Owing to the extreme difficulty of communications the details of the Amethyst's casualties are not yet available to the Admiralty. The Admiralty stated that the next of kin will be informed as soon as the information is received.

Extract from Western Daily Press - Wednesday 27 April 1949, page 1:


MORE acts of heroism by the officers and men of the battered sloop Amethyst and the ships who went to help her in the Yangtse River, were disclosed in an Admiralty statement yesterday. Many of them, it was stated, were undergoing then baptism of fire and had emerged well from the experience.

From the Commanding Officer Lieut. Commander B. M. Skinner. R.N., who behaved with the utmost gallantry until he died of his wounds, to the boys who found themselves unexpectedly in action, the conduct has been in the best traditions of the Royal Navy, says the statement.

It quotes the examples of the First Lieut. of the Amethyst, Lieut. G. L. Weston, of Weybridge, who, with dangerous and exceedingly painful shrapnel wounds, refused to leave his ship until relieved 56 hours later.

The Navigating Officer, Lieut. P. E. C Bergen, of Hatfield, although seriously wounded, ordered that he should be carried on a stretcher to the bridge every time the ship moved.

The ship's surgeon, Lieut. J. M. Alderton of Colchester, moved round the ship unflinchingly aiding the wounded until he himself was killed.


The statement gives examples of the conduct of the men in the other ships. H.M.S. London - Marine Bernard Maurice How (21), of Chatham, with only a temporary dressing on a hole right through his shoulder, and Marine Robert McCarthy (28), of Middlesbrough, with piece of shrapnel the size of a large cork in his neck, both went hours before seeking medical treatment. When volunteers were sought to be flown to the Amethyst, among the companies of London and Black Swan there was almost acrimonious rivalry. More cases of bravery and devotion to duty will emerge when final reports are available, the Admiralty say.

A telegram from a stoker aboard Amethyst, saying he was safe and well, relieved the anxiety of parents in the Cotswold village of Quenington during yesterday. Mr and Mrs W. Loving had been officially informed that their 18-year-old son, Stoker Bryan Loving, had been injured.

Extract from Dundee Courier - Saturday 30 April 1949, page 3:

115 Casualties On Yangtse

One man is still not accounted for from the navy ships Amethyst, Black Swan, Consort, and London, in the Yangtse River incidents.

Admiralty list of casualties announced yesterday includes the name of Stoker Mechanic Victor Douglas Maskell, of Norwich, who is missing.

There are 115 casualties, made up of 37 killed, 5 died from wounds. 9 dangerously wounded, 21 seriously wounded, 42 wounded and one missing.

Amethyst —17 killed, 2 died from wounds, 4 dangerously wounded, 8 seriously wounded. 17 wounded, one missing—49.

Consort —8 killed, 2 died from wounds, seriously wounded, 18 wounded 31.

London—l 2 killed, one died of wounds, 5 dangerously wounded, seriously wounded, one wounded —28.

Black Swan—One seriously wounded, wounded —7.

Extract from Gloucester Citizen - Saturday 30 April 1949, page 1:


SHANGHAI, Saturday. The Assistant British Naval Attache here to-day publicly thanked all who sent flowers, books, and other gifts to the men the Royal Navy who were grounded on the Yangtse.

Mrs. R. W. Urquhart, wife of the British Consul-General, visited the men in the United States hospital ship Repose, and found them well and making good progress.

Chinese reports from Hangchow, about 100 miles down the coast from Shanghai, said that the noise of gunfire was audible in the city.

Hangchow is the pivot of the new 500-mile long Nationalist defence line, which was formed following the collapse of defences onjthe Yangtse south bank a week ago.

It is threatened by a Communist column which crossed the Yangtse south-west of Nanking, and yesterday was reported to be within 25 miles of Hangchow.

Extract from Western Morning News - Saturday 30 April 1949, page 5:

Missing stoker mechanic among 115 Yangtse casualties

One man missing, Sto. Mech. V. D. Maskell, of Norwich, is in a list of casualties in the Amethyst, Black Swan, Consort, and London in the Yangtse River incidents, issued by the Admiralty last night.

The lists name 37 killed, died from wounds, 9 dangerously wounded, 21 seriously wounded, 42 wounded, and 1 missing. Ten are officers and 105 ratings.

The Admiralty announcement said it embodied all information available up to April 29. Next kin have been informed.

Casualties are:—


Officers.—Killed—Surg.-Lieut. J. M. Alder ton, Colchester; died of woimds —Lieut.-Com. B. M. Skinner (in command). Alverstoke; dangerously wounded—Lieut. G. L. Weston, Sevenoaks; seriously wounded Lieuts. P. E C. Berger, Hatfield, and H. R. M. Mirehouse, Helston; wounded—Lieut. (E) E. G. Wilkinson, Portsmouth. Ratings:—Killed—CP.O. Sto. Mech. O. Aubrey, Wimborne; S.B.A. T. O. Baker. Port Talbot; Boy Ist Class M Barnbrook, Birmingham; Sto. Mech. W. Barrow, Manchester; Ord. Smn. C. W. Battams, Barnet; Sto. Mcch. L. Crann, Islington; Ord. Smn. A. E. Driscoll. Torquay; Ord. Smn. J. Griffiths. Elect. Mate, Ist Class S. P Hicks, Manchester: Sto. Mech. D. H. Morgan, Birmingham; Sto. Mech. P. Muldoon, Burnley; Ord Smn. P. J. Sinnot. Dublin; Wtr. E. P. Tattersall, Edinburgh; Ord. Smn. v. G Thomas. Swansea; B. A. A. J. Vincent, Newport, Mon; Ord. Smn. J. Wright. Plymouth. Died of wounds—Ord. Smn. G. Winter, Blackpool. Missing—Mech. V. D. S. Maskell, Norwich Dangerously wounded—Sto Mech. R. Fletcher, Oldham; A.B R. G. Richards, Birmingham; Ldg. Smn. Williams, North Wales. Seriously wounded —Sto. B. A. Loving Fairford; A/C.P.O. R. Nicholls, Plymouth: Ord. Sig. W. Roberts. Caernarvon; C E R A. S: T. Roblin, Willington Quay: Ldg. Smn. G. L. Stevens Newport: Ord. Sran. M. P. Tetler, Manchester. Wounded—Sto. Mech. T. Anderson. Glasgow; Sto Mech. S. J. Bannister. Belfast; Ldg, Smn A. B. Crighton. Royton; Ord. Smn. A. W. J. Davies. Newport: Cook (S) D. Davis, Birmingham; Boy 1st. Class. S. R. Honiton; Boy 1st Class, K. C. Martin, Leicester; Sto. Mech. F. W. Morrey. Overton; Ord. Smn. R. C. Potter, Hammersmith; A.B D. R. Redman, Bridgwater: Ord. Smn. A. Rimmington, Stoke; Boy 1st Class, B Roberts Sheffield: Stores Ass. A. F. Silvey, Camberwell; Ord. Sig. D. H. Wharton, Birmingham; Ord. Smn. E. J. Williams, Liverpool; Ord. Smn. K. P. Willlscroft. Rugely.


Officers.—Wounded Com. I. G. Robertson, London, in command.

Ratings-Killed-Radio-Elec. J. C. Akhurst, Dartmouth; Sto.-Mechn. R. G. Gifford, Bristol; C.P.O. M. J. Gurney, Torquay; Able-Smn. C. W. D. Hutton, Birmingham: P.O. A. Morton, Brechin; Ord-Smn. C. V. They, Birmingham; Elec.'s Mate A. Tobin, Birkenhead. Died of wounds—Ord.-Smn. S. Jenkinson, Liverpool; Ldg.- Smn. W. Moir, Glasgow. Seriously wounded—Teleg. A. Addis, Cinderford: Sto.-Mechn. F. J. Flanagan, Blackpool; Ldg.-Sto.-Mechn. S. B. Rose. Huddersfield. Wounded— Ldg.- Sigmn. K. J. Adams, Dudley; Able Smn. C. A. Attridge, Dagenham; Ldg- Smn. P. Bevan, Birmingham; Boy 1st Class J. N. Brewer, Bridgwater; Elecn. J. C. T. Brown, Plymouth; Sto.-Mechn. G. H. Butcher, Williamstown; Ldg.-Sto.-Mechn. W. Chambers, Liverpool; Ldg.-Teleg. K. G. Cox. Cheltenham; Sto.-Mechn. L. W. Davies, Liverpool; P.O. Cook A. McI. Donaldson. Lumsden; Ord.-Smn. L. E. Duffin, Beeston; Able-Smn. W H. Fleet, Birmingham; Ord.-Smn. S. F. Ford. Atherstone: P.O. H. Greening. Plymouth; Ldg.-Sig. P. Holdsworth. Paignton; Able-Smn. J. Tootell, Chorley; Able-Smn. W. Williams. Plymouth.


Officers. — Dangerously wounded— Lieut.-Com. R. Grice-Hutchinson, Upton-on-Severn. Seriously wounded —Lieut. R. S. S. Ingham, Dalbeattie. Wounded—Capt. P. G. L. Cazaiet. London, in command. Ratings.— Killed—Ldg.-Smn. J. J. Arkell, Giliingham; Able-Smn. A. W. Elwood. Ely; Able-Smn. J. P. Foley. Glasgow; Able-Smn. E. G Harrison, Cromer: Mne. L. H. Jarvis. Kentish Town; Ord.-Smn. S. O. Jones, Dagenham; Ord.-Smn. J. C. Lane, Wood Green; Able-Smn. W. G. Pulling, Stoke-on-Trent; P.O. A. B. Roper, Carshalton; Able-Smn. H. Shelton, Manchester; C.P.O. P. J. Stowers, Portsmouth: Ord.-Smn. S. W. Walsingham, Birmingham. Died of wounds—Ord.-Smn. G. G. Warwick, Manchester. Dangerously wounded— Mne. W. P. O. Fisher, Dundee; P.O. Airman (Photo.) W. R. Hipwell, Leicester: Able-Smn. W. Prescott, Oxford; Mechn. 1st Class J. K. Wells, Dumfries. Seriously wounded— Stores Asst. R. Banfield. Earling; P.O. F Bansall-Allan, Berwick-on-Tweed: Able-Smn. E. H. Clark, Newport; Stores Asst. S. Morris, Birmingham; Sto.-Mechn. R. Pike, Southall; Able-Smn. C. F. Sabin, Birmingham: Mne. N. G. Warr, Swindon: P.O. Wtr. E. J. Wilmhurst, Streatham.


Officers—NM. Ratings.—Seriously wounded—Boy1st-Class A. Potter, Birmingham Wounded—Ord. Teleg. A. Dickson, Neilston; Boy lst-Class K. P. Esplin, Matlock; Ord -Smn. G. L Fowler, Caerphilly: Teleg. T. McKenzie, Belfast; Ord.-Smn. M. Reeves, Singapore; Boy lst-Class D. T. Tincombe, Tavistock.

Extract from Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Tuesday 03 May 1949, page 1:

Nearest R.A.F. fighters were 2,009 miles from Yangtse

From Our Political Correspondent

WHEN the Amethyst was attacked in the Yangtse the nearest R.A.F. fighter aircraft were 2,000 miles away in Malaya. This was revealed by the Prime Minister in answer to a question in the House of Commons yesterday.

The questioner asked only about R.A.F. aircraft, so it is still not known whether there were any naval 'planes in the vicinity. It is believed that there were no aircraft carriers east of Suez. This point will be put to the Government during Thursday's debate.

Both parties yesterday nominated their chief speakers for this occasion. Mr. Attlee will be supported by Mr. Alexander, Minister of Defence, and, in addition to Mr. Churchill, the Opposition will have Mr. Macmillan, former Air Minister.

Mr. Attlee agreed with Brig. A. R. W. Low (C., Blackpool) that warships should not be exposed danger without air support being available, but this case, he claimed, the ship was on a peaceful mission.

While concurring with the peaceful nature the Amethyst's mission, Vice-Admiral E. A. Taylor (C., Paddington, S.) thereupon asked; “Was not the whole situation altered immediately the Amethyst had been shelled?"

Mr Attlee: In the Judgment of the commanding officer on the spot the right thing was to send these ships (London and Black Swan) as soon as possible, in the hope that they would be able to get the Amethyst off under peaceful conditions.

More will be heard of this issue during Thursday's debate. The Opposition are not satisfied with air dispositions which leave the nearest fighter 36 to 48 hours' flying time away. They are particularly worried about the implied absence of fighters to defend Hong Kong.

Extract from Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser - Saturday 30 April 1949, page 6:

The Yangtse Incident

Bridgwater Man Wounded

Four Bridgwater persons were among the personnel of two the British Navy vessels involved in the incident on the River Yantse, China, one of them being wounded. The latter is Able Seaman (Radar) Donald Redman, aged 20, son of Mrs. T. Redman, of 35, Kendale-road, who is now in hospital at Hong Kong. He was serving on the frigate Amethyst. He has a wife and child in Bridgwater.

The others who were reported safe and well, all members of the crew H.M.S. Consort, are John Brewer (17), boy seaman, son of Mrs. W. Whitehead, 5, Beechwood-avenue, Hamp. Jesmord Grieve (17), boy seaman, son of Mrs. M. Jenkins. 6, Trevor-road, Bath-road Estate; and John Bartlett (19), A.B. Radar, son of Mrs. H. M. Bartlett, 18, George-street.

Extract from Dundee Courier - Friday 6 May 1949, page 2:


William Fisher, 29 year-old Dundee marine who was injured on the cruiser London in the Yangtse shelling, has died of his wounds.

The news was received by his parents, Mr and Mrs William Fisher, 67 Ure Street, last night.

After being wounded two weeks ago, he was taken by hospital ship to Hong Kong. Marine Fisher, who was unmarried, attended Hawkhill and Logie schools. Prior to joining up for 12 years in 1938, he was with Messrs David Dickie & Sons, ironmongers, Commercial Street.

Extract from Hull Daily Mail - Friday 27 May 1949, page 5:


ALL FOREIGN NAVAL FORCES in the Yangtse River have left their anchorage off the key port of Woosung, at the mouth of the Whangpoo, shipping artery for Communist captured Shanghai, and have moved to the mouth of the Yangtse, Vice-Admiral Badger, commander of US naval forces the Western Pacific, said today.

Three or four American warships are remaining at the Yangtse mouth to help American nationals, if necessary. Reports that Woosung has fallen to the Communists are probably right. The movement of Nationalist-loaded transports out of the Yangtse has been reported.

Vice-Admiral Badger denied reports that he was in Hongkong to confer with British naval authorities about the defence of the colony. He thought that Britain had sufficient forces for its defence.

US naval forces are ready now to receive American evacuees from South and West China. There will be no American emergency evacuation of South China.

More than 300 Britons and 700 other foreigners were freed from buildings in which they had been trapped during the fighting for the Soochow bridges as the battle for Shanghai ended today.

The last organised Nationalist resistance collapsed, and the Communists are complete control.


Shanghai's 3,000 Britons have emerged from the fortnight's battle for the city having suffered comparatively little property damage and no casualties. Mr R. W. Urquhart, British Consul-General, said that some British craft were requisitioned by the Nationalists in spite of British protests. The vessels, including a small oiltanker, had now been recovered by the British destroyer Hart.

The British property damaged was in the western suburb of Hungjao, where the Nationalists carried out widespread demolitions in defence preparations.

Extract from Aberdeen Press and Journal - Saturday 18 June 1949, page 1:


"The Press and Journal" Special Correspondent

Shanghai, Friday.

THE Yangtse is open again to international shipping.

The British Consulate here loaned as a minesweeper a motor fishing vessel—a former naval craft. Shanghai pilots offered to undertake the first operations.

The only wooden craft available were two motor fishing vessels, one owned by the River Conservancy Board, the other by the British authorities. The pilots borrowed both and swept the channel yesterday, finding nothing, and shipping firms have been recommended to resume sailings.

Further sweeps are going on to make sure the channel is safe. The British ship Shengking sails tomorrow for Hong-Kong.

Extract from Western Daily Press - Friday 7 October 1949, page 3:


A memorial tablet for men of Devonport division who died in the Yangtse River action April, will be unveiled on Remembrance Sunday, November 6, by the Commander-in-Chicf Admiral Sir R. L Burnett, in St. Nicholas Church, Royal Naval Barracks. Devonport.

Last updated: 5 October, 2018

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