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HMS Amethyst

HMS Amethyst


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HMS Amethyst

HMS Amethyst was a Gem class third class cruiser that began the First World War as the flagship of Commodore Tyrwhitt at Harwich. She was then transferred to the Mediterranean, taking part in the naval campaign off the Dardanelles and the first part of the Gallipoli landings, before being sent to Italy in May 1915. Finally, from 1916 to 1918 was stationed on the east coast of South America.

At the start of August 1914 the Amethyst was the leader of the Harwich Force and Destroyer Command and the flagship of Commodore Tyrwhitt. In this role she led the first raid into the Heligoland Bight, on 5 August 1914, but she had been relieved by HMS Arethusa before the battle of Heligoland Bight (28 August 1914). In September she was the light cruiser attached to HMS Euryalus, the flagship of Admiral Christian, commander of the Southern Force. On 22 September, with the admiral onboard she was one of the ships that raced to the scene of the sinking of the three Cressy class cruisers.

A very brief spell with the Grand Fleet followed. This was followed by an equally short time with the 6th Battle Squadron on the south coast, before she was assigned to the fleet then being formed at the Dardanelles. On 19 February she acted as a support ship for HMS Albion during the first bombardment of the Turkish forts. Their role was to sweep the area west of the Gallipoli peninsula to clear the way for HMS Queen Elizabeth to get involved in the bombardment from a safe distance. This began a period in which the Amethyst was attached to the minesweepers. On the night of 1-2 March Amethyst and her minesweepers came under Turkish fire, but were able to make some progress. A second attempt of 7 March was less successful – a searchlight picked out the minesweepers and couldn’t be destroyed. After failures on 10 and 11 March it was decided to man the minesweepers with naval crews, but their first attempt at the task, on 14-15 March, ended in failure. The searchlight was still present, and the Amethyst was hit by one shell in the stoker’s bathroom and another in the mess-deck, taking 60 casualties.

During the main Gallipoli landings on 25 April HMS Amethyst and her sister HMS Sapphire were part of the Fourth Squadron, otherwise made up of minesweepers, and attached to the First Squadron. Early on the morning of 25 April they were used to land troops on Y-Beach. Although they helped to fight off a counterattack on the same day, on the second day of the campaign they had to help evacuate that beach.

On 28 April the Amethyst took part in an attack on Ibriji, further up the peninsula, as a feint. This was just about her last action at Gallipoli, for in May she was sent to join the Italian fleet under the terms of the agreement that brought Italy into the war. Unlike many of the ships sent to join the Italians, the Amethyst soon moved on again, and from 1916 until the end of the war she was serving off the east coast of South American. In early January 1917 she came very close to catching the German raider Moewe – so close that the Moewe actually captured one of the Amethyst’s support ships!

Top Speed (design)

21.75kts
22.5kts (Amethyst)

Top Speed (trials)

22kts
23.4kits (Amethyst)

Armour – deck

2in-0.75in

- gunshields

1in

- conning tower

3in

Length

373ft 9in

Armaments

Twelve 4in quick firing guns
Eight 3pdr quick firing guns
Four machine guns
Two 18in above water torpedo tubes

Crew complement

296

Launched

5 November 1903

Completed

17 March 1905

Captains

Commander G. J. Todd
Captain Unwin
Commander the Earl of Glasgow

Sold for break up

1920

Books on the First World War |Subject Index: First World War


HMS Amethyst (1873)

HMS Amethyst was the lead ship of the Amethyst-class corvettes built for the Royal Navy in the early 1870s. She participated in the Third Anglo-Ashanti War in 1873 before serving as the senior officer's ship for the South American side of the South Atlantic. The ship was transferred to the Pacific Station in 1875 and fought in the Battle of Pacocha against the rebellious Peruvian ironclad warship Huáscar two years later. This made her the only British wooden sailing ship ever to fight an armoured opponent. [1] After a lengthy refit, Amethyst again served as the senior officer's ship on the South American station from 1882–85. She was sold for scrap two years later.


HMS Amethyst - History

History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications
from the first submarine cable of 1850 to the worldwide fiber optic network

HMS Amethyst
HMS Iris
by Bill Glover

Built at Plymouth Dockyard

Length 131 ft. Breadth 41 ft. Draught 10.75 ft. Tonnage 923

A 26-gun 6th-rate frigate of the Spartan Class. The third Royal Navy vessel to carry the name.

Launched 7 December 1844 and commissioned July 1856 under the command of Captain Sidney Grenfell. Saw action mainly in the Far East. Laid up at Chatham at the end of 1860.

Loaned with HMS Iris to the Atlantic Telegraph Company in 1864, and its successor, The Telegraph Construction & Maintenance Company (Telcon), in 1866 and 1868. Sold to Telcon on 16 October 1869.

On all three occasions, both ships were used as hulks to transport cable between the company&rsquos Greenwich works and the Great Eastern at Sheerness.

HMS Amethyst on a 1972 Christmas Island stamp

Built at Pembroke Dockyard.

Length 131 ft. Breadth 40.5 ft. Draught 10.75 ft. Tonnage 906

A 26-gun 6th-rate frigate of the Spartan Class.

Laid down September 1838, launched 14 July 1840 and completed at Chatham Dockyard 11 January 1841. Commissioned 20 August 1841 and saw action in the Far East.

Along with HMS Amethyst loaned to Telcon in 1864, 1866 and 1868, and sold to the company on 16 October 1869.

William Russell&rsquos 1865 book, The Atlantic Telegraph, has this illustration by Robert Dudley showing Iris next to Great Eastern:

The old frigate Iris with her freight of cable alongside the Great Eastern at Sheerness. The cable passed from the hulk to the Great Eastern

A contemporary newspaper account gives these details:

The Lords of the Admiralty granted the loan of two sailing ships which had been &ldquolaid up in ordinary&rdquo (i.e. mothballed) at Chatham, HMS Amethyst and HMS Iris. These ships had to undergo considerable alterations to render them suitable for the work, portions of the main deck being removed fore and aft to make room for watertight tanks to hold the cable.

Sources:
Log Book Vol 14. Article by Tom Lloyd: ShipStamps.co.uk
&ldquoPembroke Dockyard and the Old Navy&rdquo by Lt. Cdr. Lawrie Phillips.

Last revised: 23 April, 2015

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See also

In the 18th century and most of the 19th, a sloop-of-war in the Royal Navy was a warship with a single gun deck that carried up to eighteen guns. The rating system covered all vessels with 20 guns and above thus, the term sloop-of-war encompassed all the unrated combat vessels, including the very small gun-brigs and cutters. In technical terms, even the more specialised bomb vessels and fireships were classed as sloops-of-war, and in practice these were employed in the sloop role when not carrying out their specialised functions.

HMS Black Swan, named after the black swan, was the name ship of the Black Swan-class sloops of the Royal Navy. This class was admired for its sea-going qualities.

The Amethyst Incident, also known as the Yangtze Incident, was a historic event which involved the Royal Navy ships HMS Amethyst , HMS Consort , HMS London and HMS Black Swan on the Yangtze River for three months during the Chinese Civil War in the summer of 1949.

Six ships of the Royal Navy have been named HMS Amethyst, whilst another was planned:

The Black Swan class and Modified Black Swan class were two classes of sloop of the Royal Navy and Royal Indian Navy. Twelve Black Swans were launched between 1939 and 1943, including four for the Royal Indian Navy twenty-five Modified Black Swans were launched between 1942 and 1945, including two for the Royal Indian Navy several other ships were cancelled.

HMS Starling, pennant number U66, was a Modified Black Swan-class sloop of the Royal Navy. She was active in the Battle of the Atlantic during the Second World War and was the most successful anti-submarine warfare vessel of the Royal Navy, being credited with the destruction of fourteen U-boats.

Simon was a ship's cat who served on the Royal Navy sloop-of-war HMS Amethyst . In 1949, during the Yangtze Incident, he received the PDSA's Dickin Medal after surviving injuries from a cannon shell, raising morale, and killing off a rat infestation during his service.

HMS Teazer was a T-class destroyer of the Royal Navy that saw service during the Second World War. She was later converted to a Type 16 fast anti-submarine frigate, with the new pennant number F23.

Yangtse Incident: The Story of H.M.S. Amethyst (1957) is a British war film that tells the story of the British sloop HMS Amethyst caught up in the Chinese Civil War and involved in the 1949 Yangtze Incident. Directed by Michael Anderson, it stars Richard Todd, William Hartnell, and Akim Tamiroff.

HMS Magpie, pennant number U82, was a Royal Navy Modified Black Swan-class sloop launched in 1943 and broken up in 1959. She was the seventh Royal Navy ship to bear the name. The ship was the only vessel commanded by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who took command on 2 September 1950, when he was 29.

HMS Mallow was a Flower-class corvette commissioned into the Royal Navy that served as a convoy escort during World War II with the Royal Navy in 1940�, and with the Royal Yugoslav Navy-in-exile in 1944�. In Yugoslav service she was renamed Nada. Her main armament was a single 4-inch (102 mm) Mk IX naval gun, although a significant number of secondary and anti-aircraft guns were added towards the end of the war. During the war she escorted a total of 80 convoys whilst in British service, sinking one German U-boat, and escorted another 18 convoys whilst in Yugoslav service. After the war she served in the fledgling Yugoslav Navy as Nada then Partizanka, before being returned to the Royal Navy in 1949. Later that year she was transferred to the Egyptian Navy in which she served as El Sudan until she was decommissioned in 1975.

HMS Mermaid was a Modified Black Swan-class sloop of the Royal Navy. Mermaid saw service as a convoy escort during the Second World War, taking part in the sinking of two German submarines while escorting Arctic convoys to and from the Soviet Union.

HMS Flamingo was a Black Swan-class sloop of the Royal Navy. She saw service as a convoy escort during the Second World War, seeing extensive service in the Mediterranean and Far East in 1945.

HMS Peacock was a modified Black Swan-class sloop of the Royal Navy. She was built for service as a convoy escort during the Second World War, serving in the arctic and Atlantic convoys. After the Second World War she saw service in the Mediterranean. She was scrapped in 1958.

HMS Lark was a modified Black Swan-class sloop of the Royal Navy. She was laid down by Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, Greenock on 5 May 1942, launched on 28 August 1943 and commissioned on 10 April 1944, with the pennant number U11.

HMS Hind was a modified Black Swan-class sloop of the Royal Navy. She was laid down by William Denny and Brothers, Dumbarton on 31 August 1942, launched on 30 September 1943 and commissioned on 11 April 1944, with the pennant number U39.

HMS Opossum was a modified Black Swan-class sloop of the Royal Navy. She was laid down by William Denny and Brothers, Dumbarton on 28 July 1943, launched on 30 November 1944 and commissioned on 16 June 1945, with the pennant number U33.

HMS Crane was a modified Black Swan-class sloop of the Royal Navy. She was laid down by William Denny and Brothers, Dumbarton on 13 June 1941, launched on 9 November 1942 and commissioned on 10 May 1943, with the pennant number U23.

HMS Snipe was a modified Black Swan-class sloop of the Royal Navy. She was laid down by William Denny and Brothers, Dumbarton on 21 September 1944, launched on 20 December 1945 and commissioned on 9 September 1946, with the pennant number U20.


HMS Amethyst - History

(Photo courtesy of Able Seaman Charlie Chivers, R.N.)

(Photo courtesy of Jasmin Reid)

(Photo courtesy of Lt. Commander K. Stewart Hett, M.B.E., R.N., Ret.)

(Photo courtesy of Lt. Commander K. Stewart Hett, M.B.E., R.N., Ret.)

(Photo courtesy of Lt. Commander K. Stewart Hett, M.B.E., R.N., Ret.)

(Photo courtesy of Lt. Commander K. Stewart Hett, M.B.E., R.N., Ret.)

(Photo courtesy of Lt. Commander K. Stewart Hett, M.B.E., R.N., Ret.)

The young man on the left is James McClean, D/SSX 660776 who served on HMS Amethyst during the Yangtze Incident. While browsing your site I came across a photo courtesy of Lt. Commander Stewart Hett which also featured James. Of the other two young men I have no idea who they are. I do know that James's best friend aboard the Amethyst was Patrick Sinnott, who unfortunately lost his life during the battle, and would be interested to know if either of these is Patrick Sinnott, or if anybody recognizes them. James was a younger brother of my late mother. Sadly he passed away on 13 June 2008.

Sincerely yours,
Brian McFadden

The man in the centre is wearing an "HMS" cap ribbon, not an "HMS AMETHYST". This suggest the picture is an earlier one taken during or soon after the end of WW2. James MacClean was an Ordinary Seaman in 1949, so he could not have been on board the ship during WW2 so the picture is probably 1947/48. I will take a copy of the picture to the AMETHYST Reunion in Sept. Someone might recognise the people, but you will not get an answer until the end of Sept.

With reference to the photo of 'James McClean, d/ssx 660776 who served on HMS Amethyst during the Yangtze Incident. The man on the right of the photo is my father Sam Cork.

Kind regards,
Rose Sellers

I recently happened to find the Amethyst website. I have a special interest in this because Patrick Sinnott was a cousin of mine. He and his family stayed with my Mother and Father in Nenagh, County Tipperary for a time in the 1940's. He left to join British Navy I think in late 1948. He was known as Mick amongst the ship's crew and unfortunately he was killed in the Amethyst incident. I saw the comment of Mr. McFadden asking if any of the other two in the photo with James McClean was Paddy Sinnott. I am sorry to say that neither of those is Paddy Sinnott.


H.M.S. Amethyst

H.M.S. Amethyst was a modified Black Swan class sloop built by Alexander Stevens and Sons in Govern Scotland and launched in 1943. During the Second World War she made her mark by depth charging and sinking U1276. After the war she was re-classed as a frigate, renumbered as F116 and in 1949 found herself based at Shanghai. At the time there was a civil war going on in China between the Chinese Communists and the Kuomintang. The British Embassy was at Nanking, and because of all the fighting H.M.S.Consort was standing by as guard ship. On the 20 April 1949 the Amethyst was ordered to proceed up the Yangtze to Nanking to relieve Consort and prepare to evacuate all British citizens that were being caught up in the advance of the Chinese Communist Forces. She travelled in company with Kuomintang warships, who busily shelled any enemy batteries that they could spot, causing over 200 casualties. According to the Communists, the Amethyst was also firing, a statement that later, the Amethyst strongly denied. In any event, at 0800 hours, a Communist field gun battery on the north bank of the river fired a salvo of ten shells that fell short of the Amethyst and were assumed to be part of the regular shelling of the Nationalist forces on the other bank.

The Amethyst increased her speed and unfurled two huge battle flags to show her identity. The firing stopped, but an hour later as she was approaching Kiangyin further upriver, another battery opened fire hitting the wheelhouse and killing the Coxn. Another shell burst on the bridge, mortally wounding the Captain Lt.Commander B.M. Skinner and injuring the First Lt. Geoffrey Weston. In the ensuing confusion the ship ran aground on Rose Island and as the shelling continued the sickbay was hit, along with the port engine room and the main generator, but not before the injured Weston managed to get of a signal saying that they were aground and under heavy fire. By now the gyro compass was disabled and due to the lack of power the electrical firing circuits were inoperable leaving the Amethyst a helpless target.

Due to the way the ship had grounded, the two front turrets were unable to bear, so the rear turret fired over thirty rounds at the batteries until it was hit, knocking out one of its guns. The remaining gun carried on firing but Weston ordered it to stop as he thought that might cause the battery to cease firing. It was a vain hope. The shore batteries stepped up their fire with both heavy and light artillery causing more casualties and extensive damage to the ship. Weston prepared for the worst by arming the rest of the crew with rifles and Bren Guns to prepare to repel boarders.

By 10-30 hours no attempt had been made to board the ship, but the shelling and small arms fire carried on unabated. Lt.Com. Weston decided to evacuate as many of the crew as he could to the opposite bank of the river which was controlled by the Kuomintang. Everybody who could swim was ordered over the side, whilst the walking wounded and non swimmers were squeezed in the one remaining boat. Fifty nine ratings and four Chinese mess boys made it to safety, but several more were cut down in the water by machine gun and artillery fire. Those that made it were taken to a Nationalist Hospital and then trucked back to Shanghai. Left on board the Amethyst were forty able bodied men, twelve wounded and fifteen dead. By now the shelling had stopped but everybody had to stay under cover because of the snipers. By the time the shelling stopped at 11-00 hours the casualty list had grown to twenty two men dead and 31 wounded. In all the Amethyst had received over fifty hits mostly below the water line which the crew franticly plugged with hammocks and anything else that came to hand.

While this was happening H.M.S.Consort was seen steaming towards them at twenty nine knots displaying seven White Ensigns and three Union flags. She came under heavy fire but managed to opened fire and destroy some of the batteries as she tried to take Amethyst under tow. However the heavy shelling made this task impossible, so the Consort had to abandon her efforts and retire having suffered ten men killed and three wounded.

All efforts were now concentrated in trying to get the ship afloat. Everything that could be removed was jettisoned to make the ship lighter, and on April 26, after being aground for six days, the ship was floated of in the dead of night and moved up river to Fu Te Wei. However she couldn’t stay there, so H.M.S. London and H.M.S. Black Swan were sent to escort her down river. Before they got to her, they came under very heavy fire from batteries near Bate Point causing considerable damage to both ships. London was holed in twelve places and lost twelve killed and twenty wounded. Black Swan had seven wounded so it was decided to disengage and return down river to safety. Amethyst removed the worst of her wounded by sampan and went a further ten miles upstream where she anchored and received her new Captain, the British Naval Attache, Lt.Commander J.S.Kerans, who immediately started negotiations with the Communists. These proved largely futile as the Chinese wanted an admission that Amethyst had fired first, which of course the British couldn’t agree to. So months passed while the Chinese took over the whole area, and refused to give the ship and crew vital supplies.

By July things were getting increasingly desperate on the ship and it was becoming obvious that they could all die stuck in the Yangtze, or try to make a run for it. It was a risky decision but on the 31st July Lt. Commander Kerans slipped the mooring cable and slid down the river to start her one hundred and four mile dash for freedom. Running the gauntlet of enemy guns now on both sides of the river she steamed resolutely forward ,streaming black smoke during the worst of the shelling to confuse the Chinese gunners. By 0500 hours she was coming up to the forts that guarded the entrance to the open sea. H.M.S. Amethyst, swept by brilliant searchlights for the batteries on the forts, ploughed on at full speed to the mouth of the river where she met H.M.S.Consort and made her famous signal ‘have rejoined the fleet off Woosung—God save the King.

Nowadays Sutton Harbour is a bustling marina with lots of new waterside apartments and restaurants, and bears little resemblance to the harbour when the Amethyst came to her final rest on Marrowbone Slip. Just a short walk away is the historic Barbican where the Pilgrim Fathers set sail for the New World, and is full of old Pubs and art gallery’s. The fish quay has been moved across the pool near the Marine Aquarium, and with it went some of the character of the Barbican. Still it’s a fine place to see all the boats sailing in and out, and if you walk up the hill, you soon come to Plymouth Hoe with its wonderful panorama of Plymouth Sound. There is so much history here, from Drake, to the Warships still carrying our soldiers to fight in foreign lands. Much has been forgotten, like the Amethyst, but still, a walk around where she was, can still conjure up memories of brave deeds done, and after all’s said and done, that is all that will be left, just memories.

Afterwards refresh yourself in the China House where they have a good selection of photos to show you what the old Barbican looked like.

Comments

Rebecca Stone ([email protected]) wrote:
Dear Sir,

My name is Rebecca Stone and I am the granddaughter of ‘Bob’ Stone a surviving crew member of HMS Amethyst during the Yangtze Incident in 1949 and Amethyst Association Committee Member.

I am currently studying BA Hons Interior Architecture at The Arts University Bournemouth. As my final degree project I am proposing to tell the Amethyst story through the medium of interior space. Whilst I will be talking to my Grandfather about his accounts I am interested in gathering further accounts/information from Historic Naval sources and places of Naval and Military Forces interest in order to aid my research and understanding of the incident.

I would appreciate any information and/or contacts you may be able to provide me with.

Yours sincerely in anticipation,

Can any one help in advising which ship Leading Sign G. R. Holmwood seved during the Yangtze incident in 1949? I would be gratful.

WAS THE CAPTAIN(RICHARD TODD IN THE FILM) AWARDED ANY RECOGNITION DURING THE INCIDENT?

I am a radio Amateur call sign M1EDF, Like the HMS Amethyst I use Telegraphy mode only, I have obtained a spec license from Ofcom to operate a remembrance transmission to all other amateur radio operators / stations in order to remember the Yangtze incident 69 yrs on as it is known for 28 days.. The spec call sign will be GB4AMT and start 20 April 2018, If one googles the qrz.com page and puts in left top box the said call sign again GB4AMT you will see a dedication to all those that lost there lives, I am Geoffrey Powell, Ex RAF.. [email protected] , for any info required please contact me ,location Tamworth Staffs.. age 76 yrs.. Thank you all Geoffrey……

My father Raymond c McCullough a crew member on board HMS Amethyst unfortunately passed away January 2014, a representative from the maritime quest kindly attended the funeral and informed me that another crew members son Andrew Bannister who,s father also a crew member and sadly deceased would like to talk about our fathers and the history they and we shared . We discussed our fathers history and events and actually came across a newspaper photograph of my grandmother and Andrews grandmother arm in arm awaiting their sons our fathers returning to Portsmouth on board HMS Amethyst .We are fascinated by the fact that this event occurred 10 years before we were born our fathers were not married and our grandmothers did not actually know each other. Being from Belfast it was not a good time or place due to conditions to mention or discuss the naval heroic,s or medals, so myself and Andrew are currently engaging with the museum at HMS Caroline in Belfast to host a HMS Amethyst memorial and display later in 2019 hopefully on the anniversary of HMS Amethyst in memory of our fathers i have constructed a deans marine model of HMS Amethyst which will be proudly exhibited in their and all the heroic crew members memory other memorabilia including their medals will also be on display .Anyone who would like any photographs or copies of any memorabilia we possess we will be happy to oblige .We would like to keep our fathers and their shipmates brave actions with our family’s and friends for their generations to remember .

I’m sorry to criticise, but Amethyst was not built in ‘Govern Scotland’ as stated. (That sounds more like an SNP declaration of intent!) She was built in what was known to be a small fishing village on the Clyde named ‘Govan, Glasgow’!

Any information about George Hickinbottom, Seaman of HMS Amethyst.
Because of him, Cat Simon had a chance to join HMS Amethyst.


Simon, the cat crusader who served aboard HMS Amethyst, received three medals after being wounded

Cats are intelligent and adaptive predators with a strong natural instinct for hunting and eliminating rodents. Because of this, they have been used on numerous ships across the world as killers of rats, mice, and various other disease-ridden pests.

The concept of a “ship’s cat” has been around since ancient times aside from being hailed as efficient exterminators, cats have also been known to provide stress relief and a sense of companionship to sailors far away from home.

Simon, the cheeky black-and-white cat who served aboard the Royal Navy frigate HMS Amethyst, became one of the most famous ship’s cats in history after being wounded during the Yangtze Incident.

Photograph of British sloop HMS Amethyst during WWII.

In the late 1940s, the Amethyst was stationed in China in March of 1948, a 17-year-old crewman named George Hickinbottom found a malnourished cat somewhere on the docks of Hong Kong. He named the cat Simon and smuggled him onto the frigate. Although some of the crew were initially skeptical of Simon’s presence on the vessel, the one-year-old cat soon proved its worth as a capable pest exterminator on the lower decks.

In October 1948, the commander of the Amethyst, Ian Griffiths, was replaced by a new commander, Lieutenant-Commander Bernard Skinner. By that time, Simon had already acquired a reputation as the ship’s furry mascot the new commander liked Simon so much that he granted him a few additional privileges, such as unrestricted access to most areas of the ship and the permission to sleep in the commander’s cap. Over the next six months, the cat became a lovable and irreplaceable companion to the sailors, and even occasionally treated them to a grim gift in the form of a dead rat on their pillow.

Unfortunately, Simon’s carefree life aboard the Amethyst didn’t last very long. In April 1949, things turned ugly for both the crew and their feline friend. The vessel was tasked with traveling up the Yangtze River to the port of Nanjing to replace the duty ship there. Halfway up the river, the Amethyst unexpectedly found herself under artillery fire by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. One of the first rounds that hit the ship destroyed the captain’s cabin, killed Lieutenant-Commander Skinner, and gravely injured the unwitting Simon.

The ship was quickly surrounded by Chinese troops it became evident that an escape attempt was impossible. For the next four months, the crew were stuck in unfamiliar waters, unable to negotiate a safe passage back to the open sea, and had to treat their wounded with limited medical supplies.

Parrot Scolds Feline For Unpleasant Cat-Attack

Still, the medical officer managed to extract the four pieces of shrapnel from Simon’s back, and the cat was soon roaming the ship with the same vigor. In a time of uncertainty and grave danger, he boosted the crew’s morale and prevented them from losing hope.

Simon the cat received the Dickin Medal, for catching rats and protecting food supplies during the time the ship was trapped by the Chinese. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)

On the night of July 30th, the Amethyst finally managed to escape with the help of bad weather and limited visibility. On the way back to the United Kingdom, the ship stopped at many ports and the news of the cat who brought hope and tranquility to the sailors spread across the world.

Upon return to Plymouth in November, the cat was presented with the Amethyst campaign medal, a Blue Cross medal for animal bravery and heroism, and the Dickin Medal, the animal version of the Victoria Cross, the highest award of the British honor system. To this day, Simon remains the only cat to have been awarded this particular medal.

Simon’s resting place at the PDSA Animal Cemetery in Ilford. Photo by Acabashi CC BY-SA 3.0

Like all animals entering the United Kingdom at the time, Simon had to spend some time in quarantine. Unfortunately, during his second week of quarantine, he developed a severe infection which was a result of the wounds he sustained during the Yangtze Incident.

He died several days later, at the age of two. Nearly a thousand people, including the entire crew of HMS Amethyst, attended his funeral. The inscription on his gravestone at the PDSA Ilford Animal Cemetery states, among other things, the following: “Throughout the Yangtze Incident his behavior was of the highest order.”


HMS Amethyst - History

(Photo courtesy of Able Seaman Charlie Chivers, R.N.)

(Photo courtesy of Jasmin Reid)

(Photo courtesy of Lt. Commander K. Stewart Hett, M.B.E., R.N., Ret.)

(Photo courtesy of Lt. Commander K. Stewart Hett, M.B.E., R.N., Ret.)

(Photo courtesy of Lt. Commander K. Stewart Hett, M.B.E., R.N., Ret.)

(Photo courtesy of Lt. Commander K. Stewart Hett, M.B.E., R.N., Ret.)

(Photo courtesy of Lt. Commander K. Stewart Hett, M.B.E., R.N., Ret.)

The young man on the left is James McClean, D/SSX 660776 who served on HMS Amethyst during the Yangtze Incident. While browsing your site I came across a photo courtesy of Lt. Commander Stewart Hett which also featured James. Of the other two young men I have no idea who they are. I do know that James's best friend aboard the Amethyst was Patrick Sinnott, who unfortunately lost his life during the battle, and would be interested to know if either of these is Patrick Sinnott, or if anybody recognizes them. James was a younger brother of my late mother. Sadly he passed away on 13 June 2008.

Sincerely yours,
Brian McFadden

The man in the centre is wearing an "HMS" cap ribbon, not an "HMS AMETHYST". This suggest the picture is an earlier one taken during or soon after the end of WW2. James MacClean was an Ordinary Seaman in 1949, so he could not have been on board the ship during WW2 so the picture is probably 1947/48. I will take a copy of the picture to the AMETHYST Reunion in Sept. Someone might recognise the people, but you will not get an answer until the end of Sept.

With reference to the photo of 'James McClean, d/ssx 660776 who served on HMS Amethyst during the Yangtze Incident. The man on the right of the photo is my father Sam Cork.

Kind regards,
Rose Sellers

I recently happened to find the Amethyst website. I have a special interest in this because Patrick Sinnott was a cousin of mine. He and his family stayed with my Mother and Father in Nenagh, County Tipperary for a time in the 1940's. He left to join British Navy I think in late 1948. He was known as Mick amongst the ship's crew and unfortunately he was killed in the Amethyst incident. I saw the comment of Mr. McFadden asking if any of the other two in the photo with James McClean was Paddy Sinnott. I am sorry to say that neither of those is Paddy Sinnott.


HMS Amethyst (U 16)

Please note that we're still working on this section.

CommanderFromTo
1Lt.Cdr. Seymour Charles Tuke, DSO, RN30 Aug 1943Jun 1944
2Lt. Bertie Pengelly, RNJun 19448 Nov 1944
3Lt.Cdr. Ninian Scott-Elliot, RN8 Nov 1944

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Notable events involving Amethyst include:

19 Dec 1943
HMS Vampire (Lt. C.W. Taylor, RNR) conducted A/S exercises at/off Scapa Flow with HMS Amethyst (Lt.Cdr. S.C. Tuke, DSO, RN) and HMS Verulam (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, DSC, RN). ( 1 )

4 Jan 1945
HMS Stubborn (Lt. A.G. Davies, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Campbeltown with HMS Amethyst (Lt.Cdr. N. Scott-Elliot, DSC, RN) and HMS Rhododendron (T/A/Lt.Cdr. H. Vernon, RNR). However HMS Amethyst had to leavy the exercises around mid-day due to a defective Asdic. ( 2 )

5 Jan 1945
HMS Untiring (Lt. G.E.L.F. Edsell, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Campbeltown with HMS Rhododendron (T/A/Lt.Cdr. H. Vernon, RNR) and HMS Amethyst (Lt.Cdr. N. Scott-Elliot, DSC, RN). ( 3 )

17 Feb 1945
HMS Totem (A/Lt.Cdr. M.B. St. John, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises in the Clyde area with HMS Hart (Lt.Cdr. A.D. White, RD, RNR) and HMS Amethyst (Lt.Cdr. N. Scott-Elliot, DSC, RN). ( 4 )

20 Feb 1945
German U-boat U-1276 was sunk in the North Atlantic south of Waterford in position 51°48'N, 07°07'W by depth charges from the British sloop HMS Amethyst (Lt.Cdr. N. Scott-Elliot, DSC, RN).

20 Apr 1949
The frigate, HMS Amethyst, steamed up the Yangtze River to relieve the guard ship HMS Consort at Nanking, prepared to evacuate British and Commonwealth citizens caught up in the advance of the Chinese Communist Forces. At about 0830 hours, Amethyst came under fire from Communist shore batteries positioned on the north shore of the river opposite Low Island. HMS Amethyst steamed on and was attacked again by batteries around Xou An Reach and Rose Island where she took three direct hits. Amethyst was hit again by two shells that struck the bridge wounding Amethyst's Commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Bernard Skinner. Skinner died from his injuries a day later and he was posthumously mentioned in dispatches. In the confusion that followed, the ship ran aground off Rose Island.

The ship managed to send off a signal to all ships in the area, ?Under heavy fire, am aground, large number of casualties". Another shell wrecked the power room below decks disabling the gyrocompass, radio, and electrically controlled firing circuits were out of action. Another direct hit killed the gun crew on the foc'sle. An attempt was made to evacuate the wounded ashore in a damaged sea boat, but the boat was hit killing two men. The surgeon and his assistant administered to the wounded on the quarterdeck when a shell killed both of them. Amethyst was now a helpless target. Some of the ship's company were ordered to swim ashore to Rose Island. Remaining on board were about 40 unwounded men, 12 wounded, and 15 dead. The shelling had stopped but no one could move without drawing the attention of snipers.

HMS Amethyst had received over 50 hits and holes below the waterline were plugged with hammocks and bedding. During this time HMS Consort was sighted, flying 7 White Ensigns and 3 Union Jack flags, steaming down from Nanking at an incredible 29 Knots. Consort came under fire from the shore batteries but her 4.5-inch guns managed to knock out the enemy shore batteries and she attempted to take Amethyst in tow. HMS Consort turned about with all guns blazing at the north bank batteries, destroying an enemy position. As she steamed up river for the second time she was fired on by a concentrated number of 37mm anti-tank guns.

The bridge and wheelhouse were hit with both 'A' and 'B' guns being put out of action and she transferred to emergency steering. Consort came about again under heavy fire and steamed away down river. She had taken 56 hits and lost 9 killed and 30 wounded. Of the 60 seamen who made it ashore from Amethyst, 10 later made it back to the ship later, and 50 eventually reached Shanghai.

Every effort was made to free Amethyst from the mud but to no avail. On the 26th of April, after being aground for six days and in the dead of night, a second attempt to free the Amethyst from the mud was successful after she had been lightened forward. She then proceeded to move up river and anchored off Fu Te Wei. Later that day a signal was received: "HM ships London and Black Swan are moving up river to escort the Amethyst downstream. Be ready to move." But concentrated fire from batteries near Bate Point hit both ships HMS London was holed 12 times on the port side and lost 12 killed and 20 wounded. HMS Black Swan had 7 wounded. Reluctantly the order was given for both ships to return down river. During the course of the day an RAF Sunderland Flying boat arrived with medical supplies and an RAF doctor but shortly after landing a salvo of shells hit the water 100 yards from the aircraft and it was forced to take off again after disembarking supplies and the doctor.

The worst of Amethyst's wounded were taken off by sampan. The Amethyst anchored 10 miles further upstream and the Sunderland flying boat circled the ship but was unable to land due to heavy fire. At anchor off Tan Cha Ten a boat arrived with the British Naval Attach? Lt. Cdr. J. S. Kerans who took command of the Amethyst and started negotiations with the Communist authorities. Months of fruitless negotiations went by and the Peoples Liberation Army occupied the whole area. Vital supplies were withheld as the Chinese insisted that Lt. Cdr. Kerans sign a statement that the Amethyst had wrongly invaded Chinese national waters and had fired upon them first.

Finally Lt.Cdr. Kerans decided to make a break for open waters. On July 31st under cover of darkness, Amethyst slipped her cable and proceeded downstream to begin a 104-mile dash for freedom running the gauntlet of Communist guns on both banks of the river. 0055 hours Amethyst came under heavy fire off Kiang Yin but putting down thick black smoke she confused the Communist gunners on the shore. At 0500 hours she approached the forts at Woosung and Par Shan with their searchlights sweeping the river. The Amethyst, at full speed ahead, broke through the boom at the mouth of the river and made contact with HMS Concord and sent the time-honoured signal. "Have rejoined the fleet off Woosung. God save the King."

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.


The untold rescue of the HMS Amethyst during the Yangtse Incident

THE date is April 20, 1949 and China is in the middle of a bloody civil war.

THE date is April 20, 1949 and China is in the middle of a bloody civil war.

The Communist People’s Liberation Army led by Mao Tse Tung and the nationalist Kuomintang are at each other’s throats on the banks of the river Yangtze during China’s War of Liberation.

Four years previously Great Britain, the USA and the Soviet Union all agreed a policy of non-intervention in Chinese domestic affairs under the Moscow Declaration.

As the Chinese Civil War raged on, the Communists began to make headway on the shores of the Yangtze River, near the city of Nanking and warned that any foreign ships in the river would be attacked.

The UK Government had a ship stay in China as a guard ship to protect British embassy staff in Nanking. The HMS Amethyst, under diplomatic anchorage, was sailing up the Yangtze River to Nanking to relieve the HMS Consort of her guard ship duty when all of a sudden communist Chinese batteries started firing heavily upon the ship, killing 22 of the crew – including the captain.

The ship ran aground at the nearby Rose island and was severely damaged. Over 50 of the crew were either killed, dying or seriously injured. Some were evacuated to Shanghai and were treated in hospital. The ship was subsequently stuck on the Yangtze River for over 100 days before making a miraculous escape to the opening of the South China Sea on July 30 1949.

Prior to this there were three other ships involved in assisted escape attempts the destroyer HMS Consort, the frigate HMS Black Swan and the cruiser HMS London. All three suffered heavy damage and casualties in their attempts to save the Amethyst.

Due to the narrowness of the Yangtze River none of the ships were able to manoeuvre and were effectively sitting ducks for the communist field guns.

When the HMS Amethyst made her daring escape on July 30, 1949, the HMS Concord entered the Chinese territorial waters of the Yangtze to escort and cover the Amethyst past the massive guns of the Woosung Forts – the last obstacle before reaching the South China Sea.

The HMS Concord’s Quartermaster Able Seaman Taff Dixon has been ordered to deliver instructions by word-of-mouth – not over the tannoy, as sound piping sound would carry over water and could alert the enemy – that the ship was to travel up river into Chinese territorial waters.

Sailing at a pace of 20 knots, the Concord was challenged by a Nationalist gunboat near the Tunghsan Banks Buoy and ordered not to travel any further. Stopping until the nationalist ship had left their vicinity, the Concord then sailed past the heavily armed Woosung Forts – more than forty miles into Chinese territorial waters – under a dense fog later that night and meet the Amethyst meeting it four miles past the Woosung Fort.

“Fancy meeting you here,” a Concord crew member said in a transmission to the Amethyst.

“Never, repeat never has a ship been more welcome,” replied the Amethyst communications operative.

Having now past the Woosung Forts without them opening fire, the Concord – still in the Yangtze River – transferred supplies and 147 tons of fuel to the Amethyst which had only seven tons of fuel left. As they made it into the neutral waters of the South China Sea, both ships set course for the British province of Hong Kong, expecting the party of a lifetime.

After the Concord and Amethyst cleared the River Yangtze Sir Ralph Steven, the British Ambassador in Nanking sent a telegram to the BritishForeign Office in Singapore stating: “No, repeat, no publicity should be given to the fact that HMS Concord entered Chinese Territorial waters.”

This telegram was to prevent an international incident as Cold War tensions were high and it removed any official mention of the Concord’s involvement in the Yangtze Incident.

The Concord was soon met by the HMS Cossack and the Cossack’s captain boarded the ship. He ordered the Concord to patrol Northern China and removed the ship’s log book – taking with him any evidence of the Concord’s involvement.


Watch the video: Hong Kong welcomes (June 2022).


Comments:

  1. Alpha

    I am sorry, that I interrupt you, but you could not give more information.

  2. Kigalabar

    what would we do without your brilliant idea

  3. Brandon

    This brilliant thought will come in handy.

  4. Maktilar

    With loud headlines and hype, you can make even less progress.

  5. Grozuru

    This can be discussed endlessly.



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