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Yangtse River Incident 1949

Updated: Apr 2, 2023

April-July 1949

HMS Amethyst sailed from Shanghai on 19th April to relieve HMS Consort at Nanking. Fired at on 20th at around 0900, 60 miles from Nanking and grounded on Rose Island with heavy casualties, about 60 crew landed and many made their way to Shanghai with Chinese help.

October 13, 1949: HMS Amethyst passing through Suez Canal en route home following the Yangtze Incident. (

Consort ordered from Nanking to assist Amethyst; Black Swan ordered from Shanghai to Kiang Yin, 40 miles short of Amethyst. Consort arrived around 1500, but heavily hit (20th) and unable to take Amethyst in tow. Continued downstream. HMS London ordered to proceed up the Yangtse and meet Black Swan and Consort at Kiang Yin around 2000. Consort too damaged and ordered to Shanghai. On the 21st at c0200, Amethyst refloated and anchored two miles above Rose Island. Later in the morning, London and Black Swan tried to close Amethyst but came under heavy fire, which was returned, and there were some casualties. Both ships returned to Kiang Yin where they were fired at again. Damaged and with more casualties, they proceeded to Shanghai. That evening, a naval officer and RAF doctor reached Amethyst by Sunderland flying boat.

Source: "The Naval Review" 1950 edition, Part 1 Key: 1 - 6, successive locations of HMS Amethyst

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

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

Royal Marines Roll of Honour

Thursday, 21 April 1949

HMS London, heavy cruiser (Hansard, 13 killed, 15 wounded as of 26th)

JARVIS, Lawrence H V, Marine, CH/X 43488, killed

Thursday, 5 May 1949

HMS London, shore gunfire

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

Honours and Awards

Distinguished Service Medal

Bandmaster Frederick George HARWOOD, R.M.B.X. 368, Royal Marines. HMS London.

Mention in Dispatches

Corporal William Frank HART, Po.X. 2455, Royal Marines, HMS London.

RM Audio and Video Files:

Todd, Raymond (IWM Oral history) (Apects of period as marine aboard HMS Jamaica off China, 1949: reasons for ship being sent to China to replace HMS London; reception for HMS Amethyst.)

Read More/ Web Link: Navy History Net

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