1.2.10

The Yangtse Incident

At the time of this incident the 20th of April 1949 there was civil war raging in China between the Reds and the Kuomintang...which in the end was won by the communists, with the support of the Soviets, yes they were good old buddy’s way back then...the Kuomintang under Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek pictured below fled to the Island of Formosa (now called Taiwan) MANY foreign nations were in China at the time, including US and British. HMS Amethyst at the time a frigate was doing the job of a gunboat steaming down the Yangtse River trying to rejoin the British fleet and was under fire; she was the last foreign warship in inland Chinese waters without permission of the Chinese government. Further downriver on her way from Shanghai to Nanjing she came under heavy sustained shelling, the wheelhouse and bridge was hit rather badly; the result was a grounding of the ship by the injured coxswain; the skipper was mortally wounded, the first Lieutenant ( known as the Executive officer in US Navy jargon) was injured also. Sadly the sick bay, port engine room and generator were hit very badly; Amethyst was now a sitting duck and paid heavily, 22 killed, 31 wounded; she received more than 50 hits from the PLA or people’s liberation army, HMS Consort was steaming from Nanjing to her aid and silenced the shore batteries and attempted a tow; it never worked indeed Consort lost 10 of her crew some were injured. The first Lieutenant although injured finally re floated old Amethyst, moved her out of range of any more artillery fire whilst the British Naval attaché to China assumed command. Two other ships came to Amethysts aid or tried to, they lost men too, meanwhile she remained under guard by the PLA; supplies were denied to her for ten weeks. Finally on the 30th of July, she slipped her chain and headed downriver; a 104 mile run running gauntlets at 0500 on July 31 she broke through the boom, made contact with HMS Concord, passed through to the mouth of the river and sent the time-honoured signal. "Have rejoined the fleet off Woosung...God save the King." arriving in Hong Kong on the 11th August 1949, so it took nearly four months, here is a news bulletin heralding the ship's arrival in Hong Kong A strange ending to this was that the ships cat was awarded the Dickin Medal known as the animal Victoria Cross. This is just a brief account of my readings on this; in fact there are many websites devoted to this all slightly different. Medals were awarded of course to the crews of the four ships involved, highly prized ones at that. Three Distinguished Service orders were awarded, along with one MBE, four Distinguished Service Crosses, one Distinguished Flying Cross, seven Distinguished Service Medals, and many "Mentioned in Dispatches." Simon the ships cat also received the Blue Cross Medal of the Dumb Friends League, and of 53 Dickin Medals issued, his was the only one ever awarded to a cat One medal in particular was the Naval General Service medal with the bar Yangtse 1949, the ones awarded to the ships Company of HMS Amethyst fetched up to almost £700 pictured below

12 comments:

  1. Really interesting ; learned things, well written, told concisely--thank you.

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  2. Thank you for your great comment Phyllis

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  3. Very interesting blog. I really enjoy reading about history and this is an excellent article. It is always great to acquire new information. Thanks for sharing this ... Midge

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  4. Thank you both for your comments, this is what makes it worthwhile for me

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  5. Very interesting - I never knew a cat ever received a medal. I think my nephew will like this - he is a fan of WWII stories. Mads

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  6. Thanks Mads it was 4 years after WWll just prior to the Korean war, but yes the cat got a medal too

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  7. a wonderful story, just what I expected when I first encounted you on facebook.Thanks

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  8. Thanks for your Comment Dolly, in truth I never expected to get any so it makes blogging worthwhile

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  9. Hi Whizzed, My Dad was Stoker Bannister, did you have anyone on board the four ships?

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    1. No Andy I was going on for 18 and going to Korea

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  10. Hi whizzed my dad was Stoker Bannister, did you have a relative on board?

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  11. Sadly no as Dad was just back from Burma in WWll

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