NOSTALGIA: Twenty-two killed aboard HMS Amethyst in Yangtze incident

During April 1949 the frigate HMS Amethyst was on her way from Shanghai to Nanking to replace HMS Consort which was standing as guardship for the British embassy there during the Chinese Civil War.

Monday, 18th September 2017, 9:00 pm
HMS Amethyst photographed by Derek Hodgeson from HMS Concord after her escape down the Yangste River in 1949.
HMS Amethyst photographed by Derek Hodgeson from HMS Concord after her escape down the Yangste River in 1949.

Amethyst was in the right to make her way along the Yangtze, but the Chinese thought otherwise and fired on her from the river bank.

Unfortunately Amethyst was grounded and escape became impossible and she remained stuck in the mud until April 22 when she managed to free herself.

On July 30 Amethyst made a break for freedom running the gauntlet from the Chinese guns on both sides of the river.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Despite being fired on she made it to the open sea and freedom.

Twenty-two of Amethyst’s company were killed, including her captain who died of his injuries after being taken ashore.

When making the film Yangtze Incident: The Story of HMS Amethyst in 1957 Amethyst, which was to be broken up, was salvaged especially to make the film. Afterwards she went for razor blades.

My colleague Bob Hind would like to remember the occasion and wondered if there are any former members of Amethyst’s company still with us?

Please contact him via The News office or on [email protected]

• More memories of The Phoenix pub in Torrington Road, North End, Portsmouth, this time from June Silver (née Tanner).

She tells me she was born at 55 Torrington Road in 1932 but because the house was built on brewery land, the family was asked to move when the brewery wanted to build The Phoenix on it.

June says: ‘Our house was at one end and next door was a family named Gooding. Right on the corner was a little grocery shop.

‘I don’t remember much about our time there, but about 30 years ago, my husband Dave and I took my dad there when he was 90. The landlord was thrilled to see us, and even took my dad around the pub where he was surprised to see our old fireplace in one of the rooms.

‘During the war, a bomb was dropped just along from there, and my mum and dad went to see the crater it caused.’

• Jim Cooper has enjoyed recent mention of the Sailors Return pub at Mile End.

He says: ‘I know this pub from a very long time ago as my late grandmother Lottie Wells was the cleaner. She lived in Princes Street on the side of the road now demolished.

‘My late mother and father, together with my grandmother and step-grandfather would drink in the bar and I would play board games with the son of the owners, upstairs in the front room overlooking the main road.

‘Obviously, those were the days when kids were not allowed in bars.’

Jim reminds us that the sign and its legend was subject of a letter in The News a week or so ago: ‘This sign hangs high and hinders none, who take refreshment and then jog on’.

Jim adds: ‘After the pub was demolished the sign was transferred to the Rudmore Cellars, now also gone. I wonder what happened to it?

‘There was a long fight to try to save the Sailors Return from demolition as it was reported to have a passage in the cellar running towards the old docks.’ Jim remembers when a dray lorry lost its load into the pub’s bay window.

And he recalls that his family also used to drink in a pub called The Surprise at the end of Princes Street and the Fitzroy in Fitzroy Street ‘now also long gone, as is the street’.