Royal Navy veteran and great-grandfather, 90, who survived the HMS Amethyst Yangtze Incident, celebrates a special Remembrance Sunday birthday

A PORTCHESTER man who is one of the last survivors of the Yangtze Incident in 1949 is celebrating a special birthday.

Monday, 15th November 2021, 4:55 am
Brian Roberts celebrates 90th birthday. 14 Nov 2021. Photo by Matthew Clark

Great-grandfather of five Brian Roberts spent yesterday marking the occasion of his 90th birthday along with members of his family.

The navy veteran’s special event coincides with Remembrance Sunday.

As a 17-year-old boy sailor, he was hit and wounded at what became known as the Yangtze incident, when Chinese forces opened fire on HMS Amethyst.

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Proud daughter Beverley Roberts said: ‘He was taken off at Rose Island with a few others who were injured as well as the dead.

‘He was repatriated to the ship when it came back to England, and he’s got his medal with HMS Amethyst on it.’

Born in Rotherham, Yorkshire, Brian grew up on a farm and can remember counting aeroplanes in and out as they flew overhead during WWII.

Beverley added: ‘His recall memory is amazing - he can remember details that most people would have forgotten.’

He joined the navy and moved to Portsmouth, where he met his wife Eileen.

Brian said that they were ‘happily married for 57 years’, before Eileen passed away ten years ago.

At his 90th birthday party, Brian was joined by 15 family members, including three of his great-grandchildren – Summer-Louise, Ayra, and Alex.

He also has two other great-grandchildren - Hugo and Jaxx, as well as nine grandchildren.

Brian and Eileen had five children, including Beverley’s brother Dave, who passed away four years ago.

Beverley said: ‘He’s a very quiet, reserved man and he doesn’t like lots of fuss, and he kept saying ‘don’t make a big fuss’.

He’s so independent, he lives in the bungalow by himself. He runs rings round lads half his age.

‘I think he’s a bit overwhelmed by all the attention today.’

The birthday celebration took the form of an old-fashioned tea party, with sandwiches, cakes, cheese straws, and vol-au-vents.

Beverley added: ‘A lot of the family are here.

‘He got a beautiful birthday cake made by Beauty Bake in Selsey, it was lovely.

‘We want to wish him a happy birthday, and show much we all love him. We’re so proud of him, he’s brilliant.’