Informations

Vue du HMS Smiter


Fleet Air Arm Carrier Warfare, Kev Chéri. Une histoire complète de l'utilisation des porte-avions par la Fleet Air Arm, depuis les premières expériences de la Première Guerre mondiale jusqu'à la Seconde Guerre mondiale, où les porte-avions sont devenus les plus importants navires de la marine, la guerre de Corée, qui a vu la flotte Air Arm a impliqué du début à la fin, la guerre des Malouines, qui a réaffirmé l'importance du porte-avions et jusqu'aux « super-porteurs » actuels. [lire la critique complète]


Historique d'entretien

Après avoir été acceptée en service, elle a d'abord servi avec la Division Clyde de la Royal Naval Reserve jusqu'au 11 octobre 1990. Elle a ensuite été transférée à l'Unité de la Marine royale de l'Université (URNU) de Glasgow. En septembre 2012, il est devenu le navire-école Oxford University Royal Naval Unit. Elle a remplacé HMS Traqueur dans ce rôle, qui a été transféré à l'escadron de protection de la force Faslane.

La Royal Naval Unit de l'Université d'Oxford est l'une des 14 URNU qui soutiennent les principales universités du pays en Angleterre, au Pays de Galles et en Écosse. La mission de l'organisation est de « former un large éventail d'étudiants de premier cycle de haut calibre qui montrent un potentiel en tant que futurs leaders et faiseurs d'opinion de la société afin de mieux les informer de la nécessité et du rôle de la Royal Navy, et de développer la sensibilisation aux opportunités de carrière dans le Service."

Les étudiants de l'URNU ont la chance de se déployer les week-ends en mer ou les jours de mer à bord du navire, où ils apprennent à manipuler et à naviguer sur le navire sous la direction de l'équipage permanent de cinq RN. Le navire effectue également des déploiements deux fois par an, à Pâques et en été.


HMS Smiter (P272)

HMS Smitter est un Archer-classe patrouilleur et navire-école de la Royal Navy britannique.

Après avoir été acceptée en service, elle a d'abord servi avec la Division Clyde de la Royal Naval Reserve jusqu'au 11 octobre 1990. Elle a ensuite été transférée à l'Unité de la Marine royale de l'Université (URNU) de Glasgow. En septembre 2012, il est devenu le navire-école Oxford University Royal Naval Unit. Elle a remplacé HMS Traqueur dans ce rôle, qui a été transféré à l'escadron de protection de la force Faslane.

La Royal Naval Unit de l'Université d'Oxford est l'une des 14 URNU qui soutiennent les principales universités du pays en Angleterre, au Pays de Galles et en Écosse. La mission de l'organisation est de « former un large éventail d'étudiants de premier cycle de haut calibre qui montrent un potentiel en tant que futurs leaders et faiseurs d'opinion de la société afin de mieux les informer de la nécessité et du rôle de la Royal Navy, et de développer la sensibilisation aux opportunités de carrière dans le Service."

Les étudiants de l'URNU ont la chance de se déployer les week-ends en mer ou les jours de mer à bord du navire, où ils apprennent à manipuler et à naviguer sur le navire sous la direction de l'équipage permanent de cinq membres de la RN. Le navire effectue également des déploiements deux fois par an, à Pâques et en été.


Fichier:Un Supermarine Seafire s'est renversé sur le pont d'envol du HMS SMITER après un accident d'atterrissage, 1944 01.jpg

HMSO a déclaré que l'expiration des droits d'auteur de la Couronne s'applique dans le monde entier (réf : HMSO Email Reply)
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Contenu

Après avoir été acceptée en service, elle a d'abord servi avec la Division Clyde de la Royal Naval Reserve jusqu'au 11 octobre 1990. Elle a ensuite été transférée à l'Unité de la Marine royale de l'Université (URNU) de Glasgow. En septembre 2012, il est devenu le navire-école de la Royal Naval Unit de l'Université d'Oxford. Elle a remplacé le HMS Traqueur dans ce rôle, qui a été transféré à l'escadron de protection de la force Faslane.

En juin 2017, Smitter, en compagnie de HM Ships Archer, Ranger et Exploit, déployé dans la Baltique pour participer à l'exercice NATO BALTOPS, la première fois que des P2000 de la Royal Navy participent à un tel exercice. Α]


Une histoire du HMS QUEEN

Déposé le 12 mars 1943 par la Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Co. Tacoma, Washington en tant que cargo de type C3-S-A1, Maritime Commission numéro de coque 260, Seattle-Tacoma coque numéro 44 acheté par la marine américaine pour être l'USS ST. ANDRÉ ACV-49 (changé en CVE -49, le 15 juillet 1943). Elle a été lancée le 31 juillet par sa marraine Mme Robert W. Morse. Alors qu'il était encore en construction, il avait été décidé que le CVE 49 serait transféré à l'Amirauté en prêt une fois son achèvement en tant que porte-avions.

À son achèvement, elle a été livrée à l'US Navy sous le nom d'USS Saint André 7 décembre 1943, et a été transféré à la Royal Navy à cette date, mis en service dans la RN sous le nom de HMS REINE (D19) , le capitaine K.J. D&# 39Arcy RN aux commandes. C'était le sixième navire à porter ce nom.

Après avoir terminé les essais en mer reine a navigué pour Vancouver, en Colombie-Britannique, entrant dans Burrard Drydock à Vancouver pour commencer la modification pour amener l'équipement aux normes de la RN et pour l'équiper en tant que transporteur de grève/CAP. À la fin, il a navigué pour le canal de Panama, faisant escale à Miami pendant deux semaines avant de naviguer vers Norfolk, en Virginie. Le 6 mai 1944, elle embarque les 12 avions Avenger II de l'escadron 855 pour le passage de Norfolk au Royaume-Uni. L'escadron a été débarqué à RAF Hawkinge le 31 mai. HMS reine servi d'escorte pour les convois russes à la fin de la guerre a participé à la grève sur la navigation allemande en Norvège 5/1945. Également exploité en tant que transporteur.

HMS reine a reçu le numéro de fanion R320 vers 1945 pour le service dans le Pacifique, mais a opéré avec la flotte britannique des Indes orientales. Elle a ensuite été employée comme l'un des six CVE spécialement convertis au rôle de navire de transport de troupes après la guerre, transportant d'anciens prisonniers de guerre d'Europe vers l'Australie et Hong Kong.

Sa première course de troupes était un aller-retour au Royaume-Uni vers Fremantle et Sydney avec un navire rempli de Néo-Zélandais et un petit contingent d'hommes de la marine royale australienne. Il tomba en panne peu de temps après avoir quitté Colombo le 16 décembre 1945 et dut rentrer au port pour des réparations. Il repartit pour Fremantle le lendemain.

Le HMS QUEEN chargeant des fuselages de Barracuda dans le port de Colombo Janvier 1946 Le HMS PATROLLER est amarré derrière lui. Les avions sont destinés au largage en mer. Photo : De la collection de Leslie Howlett

Sur le trajet de retour vers le Royaume-Uni, il est arrivé à Colombo (depuis Fremantle) le 25 janvier 1946 pour être chargé de torpilles en boîte, d'avions indésirables, de moteurs d'avion et d'autres pièces de rechange pour l'amerrissage forcé en mer de la côte ceylanaise. Après avoir terminé ses activités d'élimination et un tour au Royaume-Uni &# 39Queen&# 39 a répété le voyage vers l'Australie, arrivant à Colombo le 26 mars 1946, naviguant le 1er avril, elle a de nouveau participé à l'amerrissage d'avions en mer sur le jambe de retour.

Retourné à l'US Navy à Norfolk. Virginia et le HMS 'reine&# 39 a été désarmé par la Royal Navy le 31 octobre 1946. Il a été mis hors service le 22 janvier 1947 et vendu au NV Stoomv, Maats, Nederland Co., Amsterdam, Pays-Bas pour service marchand sous le nom de &# 39Roebiah&# 39 le 29 juillet 1947. acheté en 1967 par Philippine Presidents Line Inc et rebaptisé 'President Marcos'. Plus tard rebaptisé « Lucky One » en 1972 pour le voyage de livraison aux démolisseurs de navires. Mis à la ferraille à Taïwan en 1972.

Un compte rendu plus complet de l'histoire de ces navires sera ajouté à un moment donné dans le futur.


HMS SMITER

La position actuelle de HMS SMITER est dans Canal de Bristol avec coordonnées 51.49069° / -2.75947° tel que rapporté sur 2021-06-22 14:11 par AIS à notre application de suivi des navires. La vitesse actuelle du navire est 0 nœuds et est actuellement à l'intérieur du port de PORTIS.

Le navire HMS SMITER (MMSI : 235009950) est un Opérations militaires Il navigue sous pavillon de [GB] Royaume-Uni.

Dans cette page, vous pouvez trouver des informations sur la position actuelle du navire, les dernières escales détectées et les informations sur le voyage actuel. Si le navire n'est pas couvert par l'AIS, vous trouverez la dernière position.

La position actuelle de HMS SMITER est détecté par nos récepteurs AIS et nous ne sommes pas responsables de la fiabilité des données. La dernière position a été enregistrée alors que le navire était en couverture par les récepteurs Ais de notre application de suivi des navires.

Le projet actuel de HMS SMITER tel que rapporté par l'AIS est 1,8 mètres


Conception et description

Ces navires étaient tous plus gros et avaient une capacité d'avions supérieure à celle de tous les porte-avions d'escorte construits par les Américains. Ils ont également tous été définis comme transporteurs d'escorte et non comme navires marchands convertis. [ 1 ] Tous les navires avaient un effectif de 646 hommes et une longueur hors tout de 492 & 160 pieds 3 & 160 pouces (150,0 & 160 m), une largeur de 69 & 160 pieds 6 & 160 pouces (21,2 & 160 m) et un tirant d'eau de 25 & #160ftن in (7.8 m). [ 1 ] La propulsion était assurée par un arbre, deux chaudières et une turbine à vapeur donnant 9 350 chevaux-vapeur (SHP), qui pouvaient propulser le navire à 16,5 nœuds (30,6 km/h 19,0 mph). [ 2 ]

Les installations de l'avion étaient une petite passerelle combinée de contrôle de vol sur le côté tribord, deux ascenseurs d'avion de 43 pieds (13,1 à 160 m) sur 34 pieds (10,4 à 160 m), une catapulte d'avion et neuf câbles d'arrêt. [ 1 ] L'avion pouvait être logé dans le hangar de 260 pieds (79,2 m) sur 62 pieds (18,9 m) sous le pont d'envol. [ 1 ] L'armement comprenait : deux canons Dual Purpose de 4 & 160 pouces dans des emplacements simples, seize canons anti-aériens Bofors de 40 & 160 mm dans des emplacements doubles et vingt canons anti-aériens Oerlikon de 20 & 160 mm dans des emplacements simples. [1] Ils avaient une capacité maximale d'avions de vingt-quatre avions qui pourraient être un mélange d'avions de chasse Grumman Martlet, Vought F4U Corsair ou Hawker Sea Hurricane et d'avions anti-sous-marins Fairey Swordfish ou Grumman Avenger. [ 1 ]


Liste des navires actifs de la Royal Navy

La Royal Navy est la principale branche du service de guerre navale des forces armées britanniques. En septembre 2019, il y avait 75 navires mis en service dans la Royal Navy. Parmi les navires commandés, vingt-deux sont des combattants de surface majeurs (six destroyers lance-missiles, treize frégates, deux quais de transport amphibie et un porte-avions), et dix sont des sous-marins à propulsion nucléaire (quatre sous-marins lanceurs d'engins et six sous-marins de flotte). En outre, la Marine possède treize navires de lutte contre les mines, vingt-trois patrouilleurs, quatre navires d'enquête, un brise-glace et deux navires de guerre historiques, La victoire et Bristol.

La Royal Navy exploite trois bases où sont basés les navires commandés HMNB Portsmouth, HMNB Devonport et HMNB Clyde. En outre, un certain nombre de navires commandés appartenant aux unités navales royales de l'Université (URNU) sont stationnés à divers endroits au Royaume-Uni. Le déplacement total de la Royal Navy est d'environ 407 000 tonnes (641 000 tonnes, y compris la Royal Fleet Auxiliary et les Royal Marines).

Outre la Royal Navy, la Royal Fleet Auxiliary et les Royal Marines exploitent leurs propres flottilles de navires de guerre qui complètent les actifs de la Royal Navy, mais ils ne sont pas inclus dans cette liste ou les chiffres ci-dessus. De plus, les navires-écoles de la marine Brecon et Cromer peut être trouvé basé à l'établissement à terre de la Royal Navy HMS Raleigh et le Britannia Royal Naval College, respectivement, ainsi qu'un certain nombre de P1000 et de Motor Whalers. En tant que contingent de soutien du service naval de Sa Majesté, les services maritimes civils exploitent de nombreux navires auxiliaires (y compris la logistique côtière, les remorqueurs et les navires de recherche) à l'appui des opérations de la Royal Navy et de la Royal Fleet Auxiliary. Α]

Tous les navires et sous-marins actuellement en service avec la Royal Navy ont été construits au Royaume-Uni, à l'exception des brise-glace Protecteur qui a été construit en Norvège et navire d'enquête Pie qui a été construit en grande partie en Irlande. Tous les navires de la Royal Navy portent le préfixe de navire "HMS", pour Her Majesty's Ship.


Vue du HMS Smiter - Historique

Après la Seconde Guerre mondiale - Comptes contemporains

INCIDENT DU HMS AMETHYST, RIVIÈRE YANGTSE, avril à mai 1949

Il s'agit d'une brève introduction à l'incident du HMS Amethyst sur le fleuve Yangtsé lorsqu'il a été la cible de tirs des forces communistes qui lui ont causé de lourdes pertes ainsi que les navires qui ont tenté de le secourir. La London Gazette répertorie les distinctions décernées mais n'a pas inclus de dépêche officielle. A sa place, les délibérations de la Chambre des communes telles qu'elles sont consignées dans le hansard ont été citées. Ceux-ci couvrent les événements de manière assez détaillée jusqu'à l'arrivée du commandant Kerans pour prendre le commandement. Son propre récit - de "The Naval Review" - continue l'histoire jusqu'à ce qu'elle s'échappe et rejoigne la flotte.

La source des images est Photo Ships, sauf indication contraire. La source des cartes est répertoriée. Mes remerciements à tous.

Un problème avec ce compte est que le nom des emplacements utilisés dans les années 1940/1950 n'est plus utilisé. La plupart des noms chinois modernes ont été identifiés, à deux exceptions près et les variations sont notées sur la carte Google. Reste la question du nom de la rivière elle-même. Maikel du projet Old Weather, qui a édité les journaux de bord des canonnières britanniques sur le Yangtze, répertorie près de 20 variantes anglaises. En l'occurrence, le Yangtsé et le Yangtsé ont été utilisés selon les sources citées.

Travaux parlementaires du hansard (à droite)

Le HMS Amethyst (lieutenant-commandant Skinner) a quitté Shanghai le 19 avril pour relever le HMS Consort à Nankin. Tiré le 20 vers 9h00, à 60 milles de Nankin et échoué sur l'île Rose avec de lourdes pertes, environ 60 membres d'équipage ont débarqué et beaucoup se sont rendus à Shanghai avec l'aide de la Chine.

Consort a ordonné à Nankin d'aider Amethyst Black Swan a commandé de Shanghai à Kiang Yin, à 40 milles d'Amethyst. Consort est arrivé vers 15h00, mais lourdement touché (20e) et incapable de prendre Amethyst en remorque. Continué en aval. Le HMS London a ordonné de remonter le Yangtsé et de rencontrer Black Swan et Consort à Kiang Yin vers 2000. Consort trop endommagé et a ordonné à Shanghai.

Le 21 à 02h00, l'Amethyst s'est renfloué et a jeté l'ancre à deux milles au-dessus de l'île Rose. Plus tard dans la matinée, London et Black Swan ont tenté de fermer Amethyst mais ont essuyé un feu nourri, qui a été riposté, et il y a eu quelques victimes. Les deux navires sont retournés à Kiang Yin où ils ont à nouveau été la cible de tirs. Endommagé et avec plus de pertes, ils se sont rendus à Shanghai. Ce soir-là, un officier de marine et un médecin de la RAF ont atteint Amethyst en hydravion Sunderland.

Dans la nuit du 21 au 22 avril, Amethyst a évacué plus de blessés et a remonté la rivière de dix milles pour en évacuer davantage. Elle avait maintenant à son bord trois officiers de marine, un médecin de la RAF, 52 matelots et 8 chinois. Le 22, dans le PM, le Lt-Cdr Kerans, l'attaché naval adjoint à Nankin est arrivé pour prendre le commandement. Le 22 également, une autre tentative d'atterrissage a été faite par un Sunderland mais elle a été repoussée par des tirs d'artillerie. L'améthyste s'est déplacée de quatre milles supplémentaires en amont de la rivière.

Elle y reste trois mois avant de s'évader dans la nuit du 30 au 31 juillet. Le HMS Concord était présent à ce moment-là.

Le fleuve Yangtze et la Chine - cette carte a été préparée pour l'"incident de Wahnsein" qui a eu lieu 30 ans auparavant. L'histoire de l'Améthyste se joue entre Nankin et Shanghai


Fleuve Yangtse de Nankin à Shanghai et aux îles Saddle
(Google)

PRINCIPAUX NAVIRES PRÉSENTS et IMAGES

(avec des liens vers certaines histoires de navires, principalement la Seconde Guerre mondiale)

Croiseur lourd - Londres
Destroyers - Concord, Consort
Frégates Améthyste, Cygne Noir


HMS Amethyst (Photos de la marine)


HMS Consort


HMS Londres
la belle reconstruction de classe County à trois entonnoirs


HMS Amethyst après "l'Incident"

Les images suivantes et leurs légendes sont une gracieuseté de Maritime Quest . Cliquez ici pour accéder directement à la collection complète



« 27 avril 1949 : des membres d'équipage sur le HMS Amethyst F-116 vus alors qu'ils étaient piégés sur l'île Rose lors de l'incident du Yangtze. Notez les dommages causés par la bataille au drapeau. » Les noms de l'équipage peuvent être trouvés sur Maritime Quest.




GIFFORD, Raymond G, mécanicien Stoker, D/KX 134757, tué
GURNEY, Maurice J, premier maître, D/JX 126455, tué
HUTTON, Christopher N D, matelot de 2e classe, P/SSX 660881, tué
IREDALE, Dennis, télégraphiste ordinaire, P/SSX 660921, tué
JENKINSON, Sidney, matelot de 3e classe, D/SSX 840980, DOW
MOIR, William, matelot de 1re classe, D/JX 150273, DOW
MORTON, Albert, officier marinier, D/JX 161232, tué
THEAY, Charles V, matelot de 3e classe, D/SSX 852996, tué
TOBIN, John, électricien, D/MX 844428, tué

ARKELL, James H, matelot de 1re classe, C/JX 804754, tué
ELLWOOD, Arthur W, matelot de 2e classe, C/JX 371567, tué
FOLEY, James P, matelot de 2e classe, D/JX 552734, tué
HARRISON, Edgar G W, matelot de 2e classe, C/JX 174555, tué
JARVIS, Lawrence H V, Marine, CH/X 43488, tué
JONES, Sidney O, matelot de 3e classe, C/SSX 818150, tué
LANE, John C, matelot de 3e classe, C/SSX 815537, tué
PULLIN, William G, matelot de 2e classe, C/JX 319158, tué
ROPER, Alec B, Maître, C/JX 153283, tué
SHELTON, Harry, matelot de 2e classe, C/SSX 818928, tué
STOWERS, Patrick J, écrivain en chef du premier maître, P.MX 59958, tué
WALSINGHAM, Stanley W A, matelot de 3e classe, C/SSX 661463, tué
(Remarque : la liste ci-dessus totalise 12 tués plus un matelot DOW le 23, deux autres membres d'équipage plus tard DOW)

WINTER, George, matelot de 3e classe, D/SSX 818706, DOW

WARWICK, Geoffrey G, matelot de 3e classe, C/JX 820226, DOW

FISHER, William, Marine, PO/X 3600, DOW

GRICE-HUTCHINSON, Charles R, capitaine de corvette, DOW

HONNEURS ET PRIX BRITANNIQUES

Enregistré dans The London Gazette, numéro 38604 , 6 mai 1949

Le KING a été gracieusement heureux d'approuver les récompenses suivantes en reconnaissance des services exceptionnels lorsque le HMS AMETHYST a été la cible de tirs des forces militaires chinoises lors de son passage à Nankin.

Barreau de la Croix du service distingué

Lieutenant Geoffrey Lee WESTON, D.S.C., Royal Navy,
pour sa bravoure et son dévouement exceptionnel au devoir. Bien que dangereusement blessé, il a continué à exercer le commandement du HMS AMETHYST après la mort de son commandant, jusqu'à ce qu'il soit relevé de ses fonctions quelque 56 heures plus tard. Il a refusé de quitter son navire jusqu'à ce que sa relève ait été ordonnée.

Télégraphiste Jack Leonard FRANÇAIS, D/JX 671532,
pour un dévouement exceptionnel au devoir. Après les premières heures du 21 avril, il était le seul télégraphiste restant à bord du HMS AMETHYST, et à partir de ce moment-là, ses efforts ont maintenu le navire en communication presque continue avec le monde extérieur. Il a continué seul, en continu et sans dormir, à recevoir et à transmettre des messages sans fil vitaux avec précision et rapidité pendant une période considérable avant que des dispositions puissent être prises pour lui donner des périodes de repos.

Mention à titre posthume dans les dépêches

Capitaine de corvette Bernard Morland SKINNER, Royal Navy,
pour la plus grande bravoure et dévouement au devoir à la tête du HMS AMETHYST jusqu'à ce qu'il succombe à ses blessures.

Être un compagnon de l'Ordre du service distingué .

Enregistré dans The London Gazette, numéro 38751 , 1er novembre 1949

Mention à titre posthume dans les dépêches


Le commandant Kerens avec l'acteur Richard Todd
(PegasusArchive.org/Mark Hickman)

Un excellent film est sorti en 1957 sous le titre "L'Incident du Yangtsé", qui par ceux qui étaient là semble avoir été accepté comme une représentation authentique des événements. Amethyst a en fait été sorti de la réserve pour jouer son propre rôle. Selon Mason, elle a été trouée par une charge explosive pendant le tournage et a dû être retirée du service. Selon Wikipedia, ses moteurs principaux n'étaient pas opérationnels et le sloop HMS Magpie a remplacé les scènes où elle était en route.

L'acteur britannique Richard Todd a joué le rôle du commandant Kerans avec l'aplomb habituel qui caractérisait ses rôles dans les films de guerre. Mais ensuite, cela était basé sur une expérience réelle. En tant que capitaine du 7e bataillon de parachutistes, il a chuté près de Pegasus Bridge le jour J pour aider à le défendre contre les contre-attaques allemandes.

Mes Seigneurs, je demande à Vos Seigneuries l'autorisation d'intervenir pour faire une déclaration sur les circonstances dans lesquelles les navires de Sa Majesté ont été tirés sur le fleuve Yangtsé (Yangtze Kiang). La déclaration est semblable à celle que fait actuellement le premier ministre à un autre endroit.

La Chambre souhaitera avoir un compte rendu complet des circonstances dans lesquelles les navires de Sa Majesté ont été la cible de tirs sur le fleuve Yangtsé, avec de graves pertes et dommages. Je vais d'abord expliquer quelle est notre position par rapport à la guerre civile en Chine. Il a été répété à maintes reprises dans cette Assemblée que notre politique était régie par la déclaration de Moscou de décembre 1945, dans laquelle le Royaume-Uni, les États-Unis et l'Union soviétique ont déclaré une politique de non-intervention dans les affaires intérieures de la Chine. Compte tenu des intérêts britanniques considérables en Chine et de la présence d'importantes communautés britanniques, le gouvernement de Sa Majesté a décidé il y a quelques mois que l'ambassadeur de Sa Majesté et les agents consulaires de Sa Majesté en Chine resteraient à leurs postes, et cela a été annoncé à la Chambre par mon très honorable ami le ministre des Affaires étrangères le 9 décembre. Nous n'étions pas seuls dans la décision de rester à Nankin (Nanjing). D'autres puissances qui y sont représentées, à l'exception de l'Union soviétique, sont parvenues à la même décision et il y a eu depuis une consultation complète entre les membres du corps diplomatique à Nankin.

Dans les conditions troublées qui ont prévalu ces derniers mois, des navires de guerre de diverses puissances se sont trouvés à Shanghai et à Nankin afin qu'en cas d'effondrement de l'ordre public à la suite des hostilités, ils puissent aider à l'évacuation de leurs ressortissants. . Lorsque le gouvernement chinois a décidé de déménager à Canton, il est vrai qu'un avertissement a été émis concernant les navires de guerre dans le Yangtse. Néanmoins, c'est un fait que depuis lors, les mouvements de nos navires de guerre dans le Yangtsé ont eu lieu avec la pleine connaissance et le consentement du gouvernement national de la Chine. Je tiens donc à souligner que, lorsque s'est produit l'incident auquel je suis sur le point de faire référence, le H.M.S. « Amethyst » procédait à ses occasions légitimes, et qu'il n'y avait aucune autre autorité dûment constituée à laquelle le gouvernement de Sa Majesté était dans l'obligation de notifier ses mouvements, même s'il avait été en mesure de le faire.

L'Assemblée voudra savoir si des mesures ont été prises par nos autorités en Chine pour prendre contact avec les autorités communistes. Un certain temps s'est écoulé depuis que les forces communistes ont envahi Moukden, Pékin et Tientsin où nous avons des postes consulaires. Les agents consulaires de Sa Majesté à ces postes s'efforcent depuis quelque temps de conclure des accords de travail quotidiens avec les autorités locales. Leurs approches ont cependant été rejetées à chaque occasion, sans qu'aucune raison ne soit donnée pour un tel rejet. La même politique a été suivie en rejetant une lettre du Consul de Sa Majesté à Pékin au sujet de "l'Améthyste" lorsque l'incident s'était produit.

Conformément à la décision de rester à Nankin, les navires de Sa Majesté se relayaient dans ce port à intervalles réguliers depuis quelques mois. A cette occasion l'objet du passage du H.M.S. "Amethyst" devait soulager le H.M.S. "Consort" à Nankin. Les forces chinoises opposées s'étaient massées le long des rives du Yangtsé pendant un temps considérable et des rumeurs se répétaient depuis quelques semaines que les communistes étaient sur le point de traverser le fleuve. H.M.S. « Consort » était déjà en retard pour le soulagement, mais ce soulagement a été reporté en raison d'un ultimatum communiste qui devait expirer le 12 avril et qui aurait pu être suivi par la traversée du Yangtse. Le 12 avril, l'ambassadeur de Sa Majesté apprit que l'ultimatum avait été prolongé jusqu'au 15 avril. L'allégement devait donc encore être ajourné. Ce n'est que le 18 avril qu'on apprit que l'expiration définitive de l'ultimatum pourrait conduire à la traversée du Yangtsé par les forces communistes le 21 avril. La nécessité de relever le H.M.S. "Consort" le plus tôt possible est resté. Elle manquait de ravitaillement après un long séjour à Nankin et de toute façon une frégate était considérée comme plus appropriée qu'un destroyer pour stationner dans ce port.

L'officier général décida donc, avec l'accord de l'ambassadeur de Sa Majesté, que le passage serait programmé pour permettre à « Améthyste » d'atteindre Nankin vingt-quatre heures claires avant l'expiration du dernier ultimatum communiste. S'il n'y avait eu aucun incident, "Amethyst" aurait atteint Nankin le 20 avril. C'est à la lumière de ces faits connus que la décision a été prise pour "Amethyst" de naviguer, et cette décision était à mon avis correcte.

Ainsi tôt le mardi 19 avril, la frégate H.M.S. "Amethyst" (Lieutenant-Commandant Skinner) a navigué de Shanghai pour Nankin, portant le White Ensign et l'Union Jack et avec l'Union Jack peint sur sa coque. Lorsque "Amethyst" a atteint un point sur le fleuve Yangtsé à une soixantaine de milles de Nankin, vers neuf heures, heure chinoise, le matin du 20, elle a essuyé des tirs nourris de batteries sur la rive nord, a subi des dommages considérables et victimes et finalement échoué sur l'île Rose (Leigong Dao) . Après cela, le capitaine a décidé de débarquer une soixantaine de son équipage, y compris ses blessés, qui ont débarqué à la nage ou en sampans, étant bombardés et mitraillés comme ils le faisaient. On sait qu'une grande partie est arrivée, avec l'aide des Chinois, à Shanghai.

Le vice-amiral Madden, officier général en second de la station Far Eastern, ordonna au destroyer H.M.S. "Consort" (Commandant Robertson) de Nankin pour aller au secours de "Amethyst", et la frégate H.M.S. "Black Swan" (Capitaine Jay) de Shanghai à Kiang Yin, à quarante miles en aval de "Amethyst". "Consort" a atteint "Amethyst" vers trois heures de l'après-midi et a été immédiatement fortement engagé. Elle a trouvé le feu trop intense pour s'approcher de "Amethyst" et l'a donc dépassée à grande vitesse en aval de la rivière. Elle a tourné deux milles plus bas et a de nouveau fermé "Amethyst" pour la prendre en remorque. Mais elle a de nouveau subi un feu si nourri qu'elle a été obligée d'abandonner la tentative, bien qu'elle ait répondu aux batteries côtières avec son armement complet et signalé qu'elle avait réduit au silence la plupart de l'opposition. Une demi-heure plus tard, ses signaux ont cessé, bien qu'en fait, il ait fait une deuxième tentative pour prendre "Amethyst" en remorque, ayant à nouveau tourné vers l'aval. Cette tentative a également échoué et elle a subi d'autres dommages et pertes au cours desquels sa direction a été affectée. Elle a donc dû continuer en aval hors de la zone de tir.

Pendant ce temps, le croiseur H.M.S. "London" (Capitaine Cazalet), portant le drapeau de l'Officier Général en second, remontait également le Yangtsé à la meilleure vitesse. Les trois navires "London", "Black Swan" et "Consort" se sont rencontrés à Kiang Yin (supposé être Jiangyin) vers huit heures ce soir-là. Il a été constaté que "Consort" a été considérablement endommagé, elle a reçu l'ordre de se rendre à Shanghai pour débarquer ses morts et ses blessés et effectuer des réparations. Vers deux heures du matin le 21, le "Amethyst" réussit à se renflouer par ses propres efforts et jeta l'ancre à deux milles au-dessus de l'île Rose. Elle ne pouvait pas aller plus loin, car son dossier était détruit. Sa coque était trouée à plusieurs endroits, son capitaine grièvement blessé, son premier lieutenant blessé et son médecin tué. Il ne restait que quatre officiers indemnes et un télégraphiste pour effectuer toutes les communications sans fil.

Plus tard le même matin, le "London" et le "Black Swan" ont tenté de fermer le "Amethyst", mais ont rencontré des tirs nourris causant quelques pertes. Le feu a été, bien sûr, retourné, mais l'officier du pavillon a alors décidé qu'il ne serait pas possible d'amener le "Amethyst" endommagé en aval sans d'autres pertes de vies graves dans tous les navires, il a donc commandé le "London" et "Black Swan " pour retourner à Kiang Yin. À Kiang Yin, ils ont été la cible de tirs de batteries et ont subi des pertes et des dommages considérables. Les deux navires se rendirent ensuite à Shanghai pour débarquer leurs morts et leurs blessés et effectuer des réparations.

Cet après-midi-là, un médecin de la marine et un médecin de la Royal Air Force, avec des fournitures médicales et des cartes, ont été transportés par un avion Sunderland de la Royal Air Force vers le "Amethyst". L'avion et le « Amethyst » ont tous deux été visés. Le navire a été touché, mais le Sunderland a réussi à transférer la R.A.F. médecin et quelques fournitures médicales avant d'être obligé de décoller. L'"Améthyste" s'est alors réfugiée dans un ruisseau.

Dans la nuit du 21 au 22, "Amethyst" réussit à évacuer un autre lot de ses blessés vers une ville voisine. Après cela, il a remonté la rivière de dix milles sous le couvert de l'obscurité, mais sous le feu des fusils des berges, et a de nouveau ancré, puis a terminé le débarquement de tous ses plus grièvement blessés, y compris son capitaine. J'ai le regret de dire que ce très vaillant officier, qui avait tenu à rester avec son navire jusqu'à ce moment, mourut peu après de ses blessures. Il restait à bord trois officiers de la Royal Navy, un médecin de la Royal Air Force, cinquante-deux matelots et huit Chinois. À peu près à ce moment-là, le capitaine de corvette Kerans, adjoint de l'attaché naval à Nankin, atteignit le navire et prit le commandement.

Un autre effort courageux pour atteindre "Amethyst" a été fait par la R.A.F. dans un Sunderland dans l'après-midi du 22, mais l'avion est repoussé par des tirs d'artillerie sans réussir à établir le contact. Le « Amethyst » s'est ensuite déplacé de quatre milles supplémentaires en amont de la rivière. Elle était en contact étroit avec l'officier général, et après qu'un certain nombre de cours aient été envisagés, il a été décidé qu'elle devrait rester où elle était.

Peut-être puis-je à ce stade anticiper deux questions qui peuvent éventuellement être posées : premièrement, comment se fait-il que les navires de Sa Majesté ont subi des dommages et des pertes si importants et deuxièmement, pourquoi n'ont-ils pas été capables de faire taire les batteries adverses et de se frayer un chemin à travers. En réponse à la première, je dirais seulement que les navires de guerre ne sont pas conçus pour opérer dans les rivières contre des masses d'artillerie et d'infanterie abritées par des roseaux et des bancs de boue. Les forces communistes semblent avoir été concentrées dans une force considérable et sont signalées comme étant somptueusement équipées d'obusiers, d'artillerie moyenne et de canons de campagne. Les faits ci-dessus fournissent également une grande partie de la réponse à la deuxième question, seulement j'ajouterais ceci. La politique de l'officier général n'a été conçue que pour sauver le H.M.S. "Améthyste" et pour éviter des pertes inutiles. Il n'était pas question d'expédition punitive et les navires de Sa Majesté ne tiraient que pour faire taire les forces qui tiraient contre eux.

Je vais à ce stade résumer brièvement les pertes et les dommages qui en ont résulté. Les victimes étaient : H.M.S. "Londres", 13 tués, 15 blessés H.M.S. « Consort », 10 tués, 4 grièvement blessés, H.M.S. "Améthyste", 19 tués, 27 blessés H.M.S. "Black Swan", 7 blessés. De plus, 12 notes sont toujours manquantes. Parmi les dommages aux navires, le "London" a souffert le plus gravement, ayant été troué à plusieurs reprises dans sa coque et ses ouvrages supérieurs. Les dommages subis par le « Consort » et le « Black Swan » étaient moins graves. "London" et le "Black Swan" ont déjà terminé leurs réparations d'urgence. Le « Amethyst » a subi de graves dommages mais a été réparé grâce aux efforts de son propre équipage pour atteindre une vitesse de dix-sept nœuds.

Lorsque le H.M.S. "Amethyst" was fired upon by Communist forces, His Majesty's Ambassador instructed His Majesty's Consular Officer in charge at Peking to communicate to the highest competent Chinese Communist authority, by whatever means possible, a message informing them of this and seeking the issue of immediate instructions by them to their military commanders along the Yangtse to desist from such firing. A subsequent message emphasised the urgent need of medical attention of the casualties and reiterated the request for instructions to prevent further firing upon these ships of the Royal Navy engaged in peaceful and humanitarian tasks. The local Communist authorities, however, refused to accept the Consul's letters.

At this time Mr. Edward Youde, a Third Secretary in His Majesty's Foreign Service who has a good knowledge of Chinese, volunteered to try and contact the Communist forces north of Pukou in the hope of reaching some commanding officer with sufficient authority to stop the firing. His Majesty's Ambassador agreed to this attempt, and Mr. Youde passed through the Nationalist lines on the night of April 21. Thanks to his courage and determination, Mr. Youde succeeded in reaching the forward headquarters of the People's Liberation Army in the Pukou area on April 23. He described the situation as he knew it when he left Nanking on April 21, and pointed out to them the peaceful and humanitarian nature of the mission of H.M.S. "Amethyst," and requested that she be allowed to proceed to Nanking or Shanghai without further molestation.

Their headquarters took the line that clearance had not been obtained from the People's Liberation Army, and that she had entered the war area. They also complained of heavy casualties incurred by their troops as a result of fire from His Majesty's ships. They refused to admit justification of self-defence. After consulting higher authority, the headquarters stated that in the circumstances they would be prepared to allow the ship 29 to proceed to Nanking, but only on condition that she should assist the People's Liberation Army to cross the Yangtse. Such a condition was obviously unacceptable.

My attention has been drawn to a communiqu broadcast by the Communists which said that on the date in question warships on the Yangtse opened fire to prevent its crossing by Communist forces. It further stated that it was not until the following day that they learned that these ships were not all Chinese but that four British ships were among them. The Communists state that their forces suffered 252 casualties as a result of this firing, and claim that His Majesty's Government have directly participated in the Chinese civil war by firing on Communist positions. These claims are, of course, so far as they relate to His Majesty's Government or the Royal Navy, as fantastic as they are unfounded.

If there was any initial misunderstanding as to the nationality of H.M.S. "Amethyst." this would have been speedily resolved had the authorities in Peking acted on His Majesty's Ambassador's message. Moreover, had the Communist authorities objected in the past to the movement of British ships on the Yangtse, it was always open to them to raise these through our consular authorities in North China. It is the fact that for reasons best known to themselves the Communists have failed to notify any foreign authority present in areas which they have occupied of the channels through which contact can be maintained, and that they have rejected all communications made to them. In these circumstances, His Majesty's Government can only reserve their position.

The House will wish to join me in expressing sympathy with the relatives of all those who have been killed or wounded in this action, and in expressing admiration of the courage of all those who took part in it. Five names deserve special tribute. Lieutenant-Commander Skinner, R.N., the captain of the "Amethyst," behaved with the utmost gallantry till he succumbed to his wounds. The first lieutenant, Lieutenant J. C. Weston, refused to leave the "Amethyst," although dangerously wounded, until relieved in command by Lieutenant-Commander Kerans fifty-six hours later. Telegraphist J. L. French showed superlative devotion to duty. He was the only telegraphist left in the "Amethyst" after the early hours of April 21 and from then onwards his efforts kept the ship in almost continuous communication with Shanghai. The name should also be mentioned of Flight-Lieutenant K. H. Letford, D.S.O., D.F.C., who landed a Sunderland aircraft under fire to convey the naval and R.A.F. doctors to "Amethyst." The fifth name is that of Mr. Youde, whose one-man mission through the Communist armies I have already mentioned.

Without a doubt many other cases of bravery and devotion will be revealed when all the facts are known. But we already have ample evidence that the conduct of the whole ship's company of H.M.S. "Amethyst" was beyond all praise, though a considerable proportion were young sailors under fire for the first time. We have had reports of seamen and marines remaining at their task for up to twenty-four hours, though badly wounded, and of men declining to have their wounds treated until cases they considered more urgent had been dealt with. I have heard too that in H.M.S. "London" and "Black Swan," when there was a possibility of volunteers being flown to "Amethyst," there was almost acrimonious rivalry for selection to take on this heroic task.

I should mention that the United States naval authorities at Shanghai placed their resources unstintingly at our disposal, and the kindness and help of the British communities at Shanghai have been beyond all praise. Finally, the Chinese Nationalist forces in the Chinkiang area were most helpful in providing medical aid and stores which they could ill afford. The House will join with me in expressing our gratitude to all of these. I should like, in concluding this statement, to pay a tribute to the British communities in China, who have shown such steadfast behaviour in the difficult conditions in which they find themselves, and whose decision to remain in China in spite of the uncertainties created by the civil war is in accordance with the best British tradition.

The House is now in full possession of the facts known to His Majesty's Government, and we shall, of course, continue to keep the House informed of developments as they occur. It will be realised that the situation is at present very fluid, but if, at a later stage, there is a general desire for a debate on this matter, I am sure that this can be considered through the usual channels.

THE NAVAL REVIEW
1950 edition, Part 1
with permission of Roger Welby-Everard, Assistant Editor (On-Line)

by Commander J. S. Kerans. , R.N


Commander Kerans
(enlargement includes actor Richard Todd)

Much has already been written concerning H.M.S. Amethyst and her detention by the Communists' People's Liberation Army in the Yangtse Kiang, not only in the Press but in official documents a detailed account would now be redundant. Political considerations debar certain details and, in addition, publication of other matter might be prejudicial to the safety of certain people still in Communist-occupied China.

It is intended to attempt, in the following paragraphs, to try and elaborate on some of the less publicized points and bring out certain salutary lessons learnt. There will, therefore, be no co-ordinated and co-related "story" in the strict sense.

This was in evidence right from the start when the Embassy in Nanking became aware of the disaster which had overtaken one of H.M. ships whilst in pursuit of "their lawful occasions" No crossings of the Yangtse River had up to this time taken place, and uncertainty had prevailed for some weeks as to Communist intentions and ultimatums which so far had meant little in a war of "nerves." The Commander-in-Chief of the Chinese Nationalists' Navy, Admiral Kwei Yung-chin (now in Formosa) offered every facility and help that he could to assist in succouring Amethyst's wounded his orders were quickly conveyed to the Nationalist Army authorities in the immediate neighbourhood of Rose Island, where the ship had grounded.

Based on a Reuter's report that a number of wounded had reached a hospital in Chingkiang (subsequently found to be incorrect) I reached there by jeep (loaned by the Australian Military Attache) with our Assistant Military Attache on the 21st of April, 1949, with medical supplies. The Chinese Naval Headquarters offered us all assistance possible in the circumstances, and before dark that day we were at the village of Tachiang, the headquarters of the local Regional Commander here stretcher-bearers and coolie carriers were organized, since the roads to the banks of the Yangtse petered out as far as vehicular traffic was concerned.

We had by now the Medical Officer (United States Navy) from the American Embassy at Nanking and his sick berth assistant with us, and the Chinese Naval Chief of Staff from Chingkiang with this heterogeneous "team" we moved off to reach the nearest point to the Amethyst. After many and various tracks and considerable delays we intercepted some wounded shortly after midnight not far from the coast. It was here that it was learned that a Chinese National Army medical officer with two orderlies had been onboard the Amethyst that day to render first aid. In spite of language difficulties and intermittent sniping he stuck to his job and did invaluable work. After evacuating her wounded, except her first lieutenant, the Amethyst moved upstream during the night towards Chingkiang (Zhenjiang) it was impossible to reach her and by dawn the following day the dead and wounded were embarked for Chingkiang from Tachiang (modern location not identifed) .

It is here at Chingkiang that Admiral Kwei Yung-chin's authorization to myself worked wonders and after some hesitations we managed to solicit a sleeping coach on the last train to Shanghai. Every assistance to the wounded was given by the American-run Stevenson Mission Hospital at Chingkiang. The matron in charge was an United States subject - one of the many gallant women who devote the greater part of their lives endeavouring to improve the well-being of the Chinese for so little in return.

These brief words show that many people were concerned in the evacuation of the Amethyst's wounded from her difficult position. Later in Shanghai the U.S. authorities placed the United States naval hospital ship Repose from Tsingtao at the Royal Navy's disposal. By this time the Chinese Nationalist Army had successfully evacuated by train from Changchow (about fifteen miles due south of Rose Island - modern location not identifed ) some sixty ratings who had been ordered to evacuate the ship when under fire to avoid further loss of life due to minefields they could not rejoin her. Thus it can be seen that co-operation was much in evidence in the very early stages this continued in all the ways that were practicable throughout our enforced immobility.

The very ready assistance of the Royal Air Force in Sunderlands from Hongkong was of the highest order. The Yangtse is not an easy place to land in, and Communist gunfire did not assist matters the help of the R.A.F. medical officer was invaluable and things might well have been difficult without his presence (but see later). It is perhaps not generally known that the first R.A.F. Sunderland to close the Amethyst had two army ranks on board they were trained "droppers " and if all else failed it was intended to parachute medical supplies to as close to the Amethyst as was possible.

There is no doubt that this was the most important point of all to consider from the word "go" an incident of this nature which came with such suddenness is bound to affect those concerned in various ways. From all the evidence that I have gathered, there is everything to show that morale was of a high order, in spite of the extreme youth of many ratings. When I joined eventually p.m. on the 22nd of April, 1949, though, it was near breaking point after three days under fire and with little rest, this was not surprising in addition the presence of seventeen dead onboard for over fifty-six hours was a depressing influence. In spite of all, they were prepared for the last rites by a valiant team of petty officers and a few junior ratings. Eventually, when the ship's company realized the situation and the hopelessness of movement either way, there was a distinct hardening of determination to stick it out and face the future with equanimity and confidence.

It was thus from the very start that orders were given to sandbag the habitable messdecks and vital spaces such as the W/T office and bridge. This did much to help. Early on I decided that a strict Service routine must, and would be, adhered to from the beginning. This continued throughout and with watchkeeping every day and night on the bridge as well as considerable damage repairs being necessitated, this kept men fit and physically tired.

Non-working hours were hard to fill there was little to find to do. We were lucky to have had an unbroken S.R.E. (sound recording equipment?) except of course when power was shut down) and a fairly plentiful supply of gramophone records. No attempt by officers was ever made to institute recreational games for ratings. This bore fruit and it was not long before they made their own entertainment I have felt that there is nothing more a sailor dislikes than being "organized" into whist drives or other such ideas which eventually finish up as a dismal " flop".

The ship's company were always kept fully informed (as far as was possible) of the outcome of all my meetings with the C.P.L.A. (China People's Liberation Army) I did, however, never at any time give them any assurance that events would be speedy - it was a personal opinion, which became truer as time unfortunately wore on. Certain selected chief and petty officers were given access to the ship's signal log each day this did much to help morale and gave petty officers a clearer knowledge of the issues at stake, and acted as a deterrent to the proverbial false "buzzes."

In addition, the knowledge that everything possible was being done by all authorities elsewhere to extricate the Amethyst gave the ship's company added assurance and confidence. The ability to receive and send telegrams helped immeasurably (265 were despatched during our 101 days internment). Inability to send an outgoing mail was unfortunate but we did receive three bags towards the end of June for reasons best known to the C.P.L.A. it was well censored and pilfered. The presence of two domestics, and a cat and a dog onboard who had somehow survived the shelling, tended to produce an air of normalcy in messdeck life.

VICTUALLING - This was an important problem from the beginning and needed much care and attention as it was considered essential to provide a balanced diet, with as much additional variety as stocks permitted, to give some compensatory advantage in the circumstances we had found ourselves. Fortuitously the Amethyst was well stocked, having just left Hongkong, and in addition was carrying flour and frying-oil and other provisions for the Embassy at Nanking to replace their emergency stocks which the lengthened stay of the Consort up-river had depleted.

Mercifully the forward galley remained intact and was in constant use throughout there was thus no difficulty in baking bread and the provision of hot meals. Casualties amongst the cooks (whites as well as Chinese) were nil, which was salutary. By bartering with surplus flour, frying-oil, soap, duffel coats, seaboots and other articles we were able to augment our fare with eggs and potatoes (albeit small, but better than dehydrated). Later on we were able to obtain Communist money (Jen Min Piao, which translated means People's Money) and increase our purchases.

For large amounts I was able on occasions to use Hongkong currency. Whichever way one looks at it we lost heavily on the rate of exchange, and their prices were as the opposition wished perhaps I reached the limit when after three months I discovered Shanghai-brewed beer was available in Chingkiang, by paying approximately 12s. 6d. per bottle I was determined that the ship's company would have some amenities, leaving final payment until later. The Commander-in-Chief kindly allowed public money to be used and eventually the Station Central Amenities Fund re-imbursed the Crown. This gave morale a great boost. The daily issue of rum continued as usual - stocks of this were sufficient for many months ahead this is not surprising when 25 out of the 68 eligible were under twenty years of age.

When I went on to half rations at the beginning of July the seriousness of the situation was very quickly brought home to many ratings. This mainly concerned conservation of cold room stocks and butter, milk, sugar and tea. Looking back on it now there was sufficient calorific value at each meal not to cause undue anxiety the main trouble was lack of variety. A careful tally was kept on every item each week and the limiting dates of each article were re-assessed. By the end of August it was estimated that starvation would have been very close. Still I was preparing to go on quarter rations early in August it would have been then that difficulty in maintaining morale might have been hard. In view of this contingency, lack of food was one of my reasons for the "breakout."

I take this item next as everything ultimately depended on damage control and refitting and maintenance of all machinery. Amongst the wounded who were evacuated were the Amethyst's engineer officer and chief E.R.A. in addition the chief stoker was drowned and others were killed, wounded or evacuated. It was a depleted engine room staff that remained, but mercifully the majority were petty officer stoker mechanics backed up with sufficient hands to run machinery. Considerable credit is due to the senior E.R.A. who kept up the efficiency of his department, with the electrical officer in over-all command. It is interesting to note that this E.R.A. had been a prisoner-of-war of the Japanese for three and a half years in Sumatra.

Without going into details here I cannot stress too highly how important knowledge of damage control is when disasters such as this occur especially ship knowledge. It was unfortunate that large drafting changes had taken place in the Amethyst only a few days previously. The important points which come to my mind here are accurate damage control markings and dispersion of lockers and fire-fighting equipment. A more simplified form of markings on doors and fans should, I feel, be introduced. Young ratings are inevitably going to forget what the various letterings stand for in time of emergency. The dangers of ratings painting over rubber on hatches and doors is still too evident wherever one looks and in spite of all that has been said in training. Only time and constant supervision will eradicate this very important detail. There is no doubt that our peace-time damage control must be maintained as near to the war-time scale as habitability allows.

The vital factor throughout our detention was over fuel, on which everything depended. The Amethyst left Shanghai on her fateful journey with full tanks. A small amount was lost by pumping to refloat after grounding by the time I joined her on the 22nd of April approximately 270 tons remained on board. No attempt was made in the early days at conservation since the situation was dangerous and fluid. On April 28th contact had been made with the Communists ashore, and with the realization that time meant little to the C.P.L.A., steps were initiated to curtail consumption. As time wore on the hours without power became greater - at the end we were shut down for as long as 59 hours without steam.

This was grim and was accentuated by the extreme heat which the Yangtse experiences in July. The limiting factors were (a) the cold rooms and (b) the magazines: the former temperatures rose very little, and the latter had some way to go before danger point was reached. I consider we could have exceeded this period and existed shut down for 72 hours at a time with strict rationing of fresh water.

The only power available during these periods was a 24-volt battery supply from the lower power room for the emergency W/T set and a few pin-points of lights in my cabin and on the messdecks. To live in a "dead ship" is an experience which none of us are likely to forget. Our lowest average daily consumption of fuel for the week was a ton a day. Isolation of one side of the engine room helped considerably, and at the same time allowed refitting to continue. Employment of engine room ratings when shut down was difficult, but eventually sufficient items on the upper-deck with departmental affinity were found to keep them fully employed in chipping. From the health point of view this was beneficial in the case of some of the younger ratings.

The outstanding success perhaps of all our time in the River was the receipt of 54 tons of Admiralty oil fuel in 294 drums from Hogee Wharf, Nanking. I shall never know why the Communist authorities were so ready to accede to the entry of this invaluable oil fuel. I should explain here that this was a reserve of fuel built up at Hogee (where H.M. ships lie alongside) in the event of a prolonged stay being necessary at Nanking due to the Civil War. Over the months each ship had filled up so many drums before departure. The Naval Attache's foresight paid handsome dividends in the end. This was the one mistake of Colonel Kang Mao-Chao (the Political Commissioner and chief negotiator against me) for a long time he thought we burned coal!

Embarkation of this fuel in drums was an interesting, though strenuous, operation. Due to shortage of man-power no steam was possible. All this fuel was pumped and poured into the three fuelling connections. No pumps being available and the fuel line being on the port side an excessive list to port was necessitated fortunately the weather was fine, but I experienced a few anxious moments until steam was raised and we could level off.

The other miracle was the evaporator, which never let us down (only one in this class of ship). One amusing incident I recall was when an extremely harassed and worried E.R.A. reported that the rocker arm on the evaporator was fractured. Inspection by myself and the electrical officer left no doubt at the time. Signals were made and Hongkong Dockyard over a week-end was quickly at work making another some time later the E.R.A. reported that this fracture had now developed into a very thin streak of cotton waste heavily impregnated in lubricants! Relief was great.

Stability had some interesting problems and a close study of the Ship's Book was made. When the light condition was reached it was approved to flood the forward ballast tank and X magazine (X gun was destroyed, anyway) instead of flooding oil fuel tanks the two after ones were flooded earlier on. I hoped to keep as many tanks free of Yangtse water and its large amount of sand whilst there was any hope of fuel replenishment. For the passage out of the Yangtse Nos. 1, 2, 7 and 8 O.F.T. and the ballast tank and magazine previously mentioned were flooded. All fuel remaining for the break-out was previously transferred to Nos. 3 and 4 O.F. Tanks to avoid losing too much by loss of suction.

Training in damage control was not overlooked and the boys were put through a course the many weeks spent in shoring and cutting away damage provided a useful instruction for the great majority.

The world has never seen a good deal of the damage caused to the Amethyst's upperworks since all that was practicable was cut away. To increase stability many heavy weights were struck below - the best examples of this were the damaged Bofors and certain radar equipment (but more of this later).

A blackboard was kept in my cabin throughout with details of fuel of all types remaining in each tank, fresh water, main items of food and limits of endurance in each case.

In all, nineteen meetings took place with the Communist military authorities of this number eight were preliminary "skirmishes" with the opposition ashore near the Amethyst or onboard. The remainder were all on shore and for the most part held in Chingkiang at the General's headquarters.

These meetings were held with a very thin veil of amicability and rigid formality. The convening authority was the Area Commander, General Yuan Chung-hsien, whose appearances at the table were few and always of short duration. In spite of everything that was said the negotiating powers on his behalf were handed over to the Political Commissioner, Colonel Kang Mao-Chao he also is alleged to have been the Battery Commander at Sang Chiang Ying who originally fired on the Amethyst.

Kang had two interpreters who were both former students and well indoctrinated in Communist ideologies. It is of interest that everything I have ever said at all these meetings has been religiously taken down in full, in English as well as in Chinese. At some meetings I had the attention of the Press and propaganda section of the C.P.L.A. thus I am well documented. The keenest photographer was a female who one day actually ventured out in a sampan from the local village nearby to photograph the Amethyst at all angles. The local garrison commander, Captain Tai Kuo-liang, who acted as my personal bodyguard, also attended each meeting but apart from writing reams he was never allowed to say a word. Funnily enough we used to converse in French.

The progress of the meetings can fairly be summed up as representing a sine curve at one meeting some hope for safe conduct was given, but the next would speedily dash it to the ground. By July it was evident that the Communists were deliberately protracting the course of proceedings and that safe conduct would only be given provided H.M. Government acceded to damaging admissions which were, of course, quite unacceptable. At no time was any assistance to aid me allowed to enter the area by the C.P.L.A. every excuse, artifice and device was made to put pressure on myself to assume high-level responsibility to negotiate as a pre-requisite to safe conduct assertion.

That the main W/T office was undamaged in the initial shelling was indeed fortunate and even more so that an electrical officer was onboard. This officer belonged to the senior officer's frigate at Shanghai and was on passage to Nanking in order to repair the Amethyst's radar. (No sooner had he done this than circumstances were such that destruction of classified radar equipment was ordered for security reasons). Some while after many ratings had been ordered to evacuate the Amethyst this officer, having reason to believe that the emergency transmitter was again working, found there were no W/T ratings left onboard. It is coincidence, or perhaps chance, that Telegraphist French was a volunteer to man the whaler ferrying wounded and others to the mainland. He was quickly hauled out of this and thus it was that this rating became the sole wireless operator left in the Amethyst. He did well, and it speaks highly of West Country physique and guts that he stood up to continuous watchkeeping for so long.

Two electrical ratings were eventually trained to read our call-sign and simple procedure. By special arrangements with the flagship or Hongkong continuous watch was always maintained, and the telegraphist rested accordingly. The Type 60 W/T was used when without power and proved itself reliable the last valve went, however, soon after the Hogee fuel arrived at the beginning of July. This necessitated raising steam for transmission and was therefore costly in fuel. We were able to maintain continuous listening watch with a B.28 receiver.

Having to resort to plain language or other insecure means severely limited the reporting of the outcome of my meetings and imparting my intentions to my Commander-in-Chief. The net result was that we nearly succeeded in deceiving each other as to our ideas. In the end, all was clear.

The volume of traffic throughout our period up-river was fairly high and of necessity signals were extremely lengthy. Excellent co-operation at Stonecutters reduced repetitions to a minimum. It is fairly certain that the opposition were eventually reading our messages and considering we were on the same wavelength for many months, it is perhaps not surprising. The need for caution was paramount. Lack of codes and cyphers was undoubtedly my severest handicap, and in the end a reasonably secure but limited method was adopted.

Rising temperatures in July began to tell on the telegraphist, and there is no shadow of doubt that physically his mental capacity in reading traffic was falling rapidly. There was unfortunately little we could do when shut down to alleviate conditions. This was one of my paramount reasons that escape was the only solution.

The most difficult aspect of this operation was to make the decision having obtained political clearance for such an eventuality the final move was left to me, which of course it had to be in the circumstances. It was clear that Colonel Kang had little intention of allowing entry of fuel from Shanghai for a long time, if at all. Moon conditions at the end of July were favourable and I could not risk awaiting another opportunity, since the time was drawing near when operational immobility to get out of the Yangtse would have been reached, even with further very drastic curtailment of fuel consumption.

The climate was at its worst and though the physical condition of all onboard was reasonably high, no one could have expected such a state of affairs to continue. The Yangtse was at its highest peak so the risk navigationally was worth taking, and if I was hard pressed or badly damaged the channel out to the open sea north of Tsungming Island had hopes of success there was plenty of river water to pump overboard from the oil fuel tanks and ammunition to jettison to reduce our draught.

As early as May, 1949, I had always considered in my mind that escape would have to be faced eventually. How this could be achieved without disaster I was unable to fathom - but while negotiations gave some hope of eventual agreement I considered it my duty to continue at them to the best of my ability. One thing I felt essential was to reduce the Amethyst's silhouette and increase stability by reducing top-weight. Accordingly a systematic reduction of damaged superstructure and equipment was put in hand. No officer or rating was ever aware of the real object my "cover" was occupation for the hands and increase of stability by striking below. I was considered somewhat "eccentric" on this score by many! In this way the mast was stripped of many items, radar aerials, aids to gunnery and a host of other items on the upper deck. It was hoped to reduce splinter damage in addition. As could be seen in Hongkong, this was excessive in the initial shelling and caused many casualties, especially electrically.

My object finally was to build up the Amethyst's silhouette to simulate an L.S.T., a number of which had been seen plying the Yangtse commercially. These were former U.S. landing craft which still retained a radar set. For this reason I left an aerial intact and partly because of the risk due to shelling in dismantling it. Black canvas suitably positioned heightened the silhouette and in addition a quantity of dark paint was thrown on to paintwork to gloss it over.

The only armament available that could be fought was one 4-inch gun and an Oerlikon (port side). X gun was destroyed and A gun was intact. The starboard Bofors was also destroyed and most of it had been dismantled and struck below. The port Bofors was never onboard, being in Hongkong dockyard for modifications. The starboard Oerlikon was completely shot away. Bren guns and Lanchesters made up the available armament. In the weeks prior to the break-out all R.U. (ready use) ammunition was ditched to reduce fire risk certain fireworks and "dangerous" ammunition were also thrown overboard for this reason. Sufficient detonators were, however, held back for eventual destruction of the ship if disaster had necessitated it.

The only aid to navigation was the echo-sounder which proved itself reliable and accurate throughout. Experienced Yangtse pilots had, I later learnt, stated that an echo-sounder in the Yangtse could not give a true and accurate sounding due to the fast flow of the river in spate. From this experience it seems that soundings gave me sufficient warning in time to sheer over to deeper water. Lowest recorded reading on the passage out was three fathoms.

We had no charts of the area from where we started to just beyond Rose Island but a Chinese Admiralty Chart Folio which the Nanking Chinese naval authorities had lent me gave sufficient indication of the courses. The remaining charts we had but of course over four months out of date. It was found later that about fifty per cent, of the buoys were roughly in place and the remainder non-existent.

My "intention" signal was passed to the Commander-in-Chief and the Concord at the Saddle Islands in the dog watches on the 30th of July, 1949, and at dusk certain selected ratings were briefed in my cabin. The ship's company were later told by word of mouth in view of possible Chinese reaction onboard. It was planned to slip the cable at 2200 but I decided to wait a few minutes to allow the moon (moon set 2315) to disappear behind a bank of clouds. At this precise moment a fully-lighted merchant ship appeared ahead coming down river from Chingkiang. This was fortuitous, and I decided to follow astern of her hoping that I should not be observed by the control points and that in following her I should be navigationally assisted over a difficult portion of the river of which I had no knowledge. What happened later makes it quite certain that the presence of this passenger ship completely confused the Communist batteries.

This ship, now known to be the Kiangling Liberation, was quickly challenged by flares, and rightly replied with the appropriate siren signals. Almost immediately the Amethyst likewise was challenged but made no reply. An H.D.M.L. or L.C.I.(L.) on our port bow, obviously part of the "set-up" waiting for such an eventuality, for reasons best known to herself opened fire at their own batteries across our bows. My immediate impression was that she was endeavouring to stop us and would board if she could. In a matter of seconds the Amethyst came under heavy and reasonably accurate fire from four well placed batteries (three to starboard and one to port). We were quickly hit on the waterline amidships just forward of the bridge by this time full ahead both had been rung on for reasons I cannot yet explain the Amethyst took an unaccountable list to starboard and steering was well nigh impossible - nor, of course, would B gun bear.

(I remember vividly feeling sure that we had been badly hit and that one shaft was out of action in my mind I was making initial plans to beach in a suitable place if I could get clear of the batteries to evacuate my ship's company and then blow up the ship. I prayed that the Commander-in-Chief would have received my initial "under fire" signal it was with extreme relief we received his reply some minutes later. By then we had passed the first hurdle.)

The Kiangling Liberation soon lost his head and turned to port, switched off his lights, and blew his siren vociferously. The Amethyst began to gather headway at speed and made black smoke weaving heavily we finally slipped past the Kiangling Liberation with about two feet to spare. On looking astern later it was somewhat surprising to see her on fire and the batteries pounding away in all directions. The use of smoke was advantageous (and again at Kiangyin) and seemed to provide a good aiming mark for the opposition.

The remainder of the passage has been fully told but I should make it clear that the "boom" which the Press continue even now to make much of did not exist. (This was a relic of Press stories in April, 1949, and no Intelligence has ever found anything to support any pontoons or obstructions being "strung across." In that current it would be beyond the capabilities of Chinese from either side). The Kiangyin Boom (or Kiang Yin = Jiangyin) is a relic of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937 and was a line of sunken merchant ships across the river all are now below the surface. There is a narrow gap cleared at present and it was normally marked by two flashing buoys. Only one was in place when I passed by and the area was covered by Oerlikon batteries and a small patrol craft fire from both was ineffectual.

The greatest danger on the passage down was my leaking tiller flat by strenuous efforts the pumps held and all was well. I might mention here that the initial damage very nearly put paid to the telemotor steering leads running through the depth charge store rust was so bad that a sharp pencil would nearly penetrate them and there were no spares held onboard.

The sheer guts of those onboard below decks speaks highly for all, especially the youngsters. Engine room temperatures were extremely high and of course there were no reliefs it was difficult in the circumstances to pass round a steady flow of information from the bridge. Those whose action station was below decks in the early part of the last war will know the strain of waiting only too well.

One small but important point was fully borne out by this tragic incident. There is absolutely nothing wrong in the leadership of the chief and petty officer of to-day. A good many had undertaken disciplinary courses (exact proportion I do not now know - January, 1950) and the merit of these is most fully justified. Chief and petty officers are the important "link in the chain," and no stone should be left unturned to encourage these men to remain on in the Service so many excellent "types" fail to continue after their "Twelve" that a greater pecuniary incentive should be offered.

Considerable publicity was given to our "escape" and eventual passage to the United Kingdom, and again at Plymouth and London. Some quarters have voiced disapproval of this course - especially as the Black Swan and Consort did not come home too. However, it took place, and we had to face it taking an over-all view it has really done the Royal Navy little harm, and perhaps our recruiting figures may show an increase.

I have received between 700 and 800 letters and cables from all parts of the United Kingdom, the British Commonwealth and many foreign countries. Many and diverse peoples have written, and in this country of ours it evinces an unswerving loyalty and faith in the hope for a resurgence of more amenable times. This in itself gives much encouragement for the future.

The final honour we were accorded was to appear in Buckingham Palace before His Majesty the King and the Royal Family. Each rating had one friend or relation present (those with gongs, two). Two comments by parents which appeared in the Press are a fair summing up: "The Queen smiled at me, it was all I wanted," and the other: - "Our .. joined up just two years ago. I never could have dreamed that he would get us inside the Palace in that time."

The last nine months have been difficult but unforgettable times. It was a situation which has had no parallel in history and, it is hoped, will not occur again. From the youngest to the oldest the situation was faced with poise and confidence, which was indeed salutary. This was my greatest asset. The spirit of leadership and devotion to duty by those under my command was fully exemplified throughout this after all is the fundamental basis of all our training and everything that the Royal Navy has stood for in the past and stands for in the present and the future.

Co-operation was predominant from the start to the finish and that no link in the "chain" was broken augurs well for the future, and speaks much for the Royal Navy's basic training.

Prayers to Almighty God were not overlooked in our routine during those weary and trying days last summer. There is an ingrained sense of religion deep down in most of us, apparent more in some than in others how easy it could have been as the empty days wore on to be discouraged and adopt a fatalistic outlook.

In conclusion I quote the final paragraph of my covering letter to the Report on The Yangtse Incident of 1949:

"Our prayers were answered, and escape was achieved without loss of life and serious damage. FAITH is not the least of the lessons to be learnt when in adversity."


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