HMS Amethyst

Discussion in 'Films, Music, TV & All Things Artsy' started by Seaweed, Apr 20, 2009.

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  1. Seaweed

    Seaweed War Hero Book Reviewer

  2. I've seen the film. The Skipper was hopelessly lost as it all took place on the River Orwell. Mao Tse Tung was actually Captain LeFanu and the Chinese soldiers were really pusser's own baby sailors. :biggrin:

    It serves as a good reminder why GPS is sooooooooooo critical in determining location. :twisted:
     
  3. GPS? GPS?!! In confined waters?! Wash your mouth out, and pray for forgiveness to the navigation god.
     
  4. Remember her coming back to Guzz - they cleared lower deck of our primary school and sent us on the pier at Mutton Cove to cheer her by. Still trying to figure out how they managed to get 3 twin 4inch on a little ship like that. Saw her in the dockyard before she went for scrap and there was a neat semi-circle right on the point of the ow, courtesy of the Chinese Army - still there when she went to Willoughbys.
     
  5. I believe that Lt Cdr John Kerans, the Naval Attache who was sent to Amethyst to take command and fought her out of the river and back to the Fleet, never made Commander. Such is the gratitude of their Lordships!
     
  6. An old and bold retired NO told me that he almost refused the awarded DSO/DSC, beacause he reckoned it was worth a VC, perhaps this was why. IIRC, he entered politics, and served as an MP for somewhere in Hampshire ?
     
  7. In 1957 I went on holiday with Mum and Dad, visiting relatives in Cattedown. I recall Dad pointing out, up a far corner of Sutton Harbour, a tangle of grey and rust metal that slightly resembled a ship. He said it was the AMETHYST, the ship in the film he’d taken me to see earlier in the year. I can barely remember the ship now. The only other ship I saw on that slip was the OPOSSUM, in the ‘60s.
     
  8. From the Plymouth Council website:

    "HMS Amethyst returned to Plymouth in November 1949 following the "Yangtse Incident". The ship and crew had been stranded in the River Yangtse after coming under fire from the Chinese communist army.
    HMS Amethyst bravely escaped to open sea 101 days after the original incident and returned to England.

    HMS Amethyst's ship's cat Simon was awarded the Dickins Medal for bravery but died before it could be awarded to him. There is a memorial plaque commemorating Simon at the PDSA headquarters in Plymouth.

    Amethyst was later broken-up in Plymouth at the Marrowbone Slip, Sutton Harbour".
     
  9. We must have been at Mount Wise around the same time (1979-81). I heard that Sir Peter kept the blood-stained chart showing the route of Amethyst's escape.
     
  10. Yes. That's when I was there. I was a POWtr in those days.
     
  11. I might be wrong, be I recall (from lit) he disobeyed orders from the Admiralty in that he left the ship to diliberate with the Chinese...
    Big no-no then, hence the promotion block?

    He'd be 1st SL now'days..!
     
  12. For several years I worked with an old chap who had served time in the Royal Navy, he only spoke of his time in Hong Kong, never of the ships he served on and never of other people he served with. He died a few years after retirement. At his funeral it came out that he was a member of the ships company of HMS Amethyst during the period that it was trapped in the Yangste. Not even people that had worked with for 20 years or more knew any thing of this, he just kept it all to his self, not even his family spoke of it. But seeing the photos of the state of the ship after the escape of the ship who can blame him.
     
  13. A (very) late comer to this thread, however, having just read Yangtze Showdown by Brian Izzard, a new account of the HMS Amethyst incident which takes into account the diplomatic and naval high command failures not previously known, it states that Kerans was on his last chance with the Admiralty and but for him being the only naval officer available at Nanking he would not have been selected. He had a reputation of being a very ordinary ship handler and had a liking for alcohol.

    There were moves to have him replaced as captain while the ship was trapped on the Yangtze as the higher echelons felt that he was losing the plot while negotiating with the Chinese but by then there was no way of getting a replacement to the ship. Despite his reputation Kerans's handling of the Amethyst was faultless; she was a very damaged ship and there were fears that she might not hold together and in fact she had to undergo running repairs at sea while proceeding to Hong Kong when a patch let go and she started taking water.

    It would seem that Kerans returned to his old ways on the voyage back to the UK following repairs in Hong Kong. While the ship was in Singapore Kerans was principle guest at a dinner to commemorate the escape. He failed to appear until the dinner was nearly over and he was very much worse for wear from alcohol. Not a career enhancing move when the dinner was being hosted by the CiC Far Eastern Fleet. His post naval career was not much better either.

    However, he was the man on the spot and he did the navy proud when he had to step up to the plate.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2017
    • Informative Informative x 1
  14. Following on from my previous post, Kerans had no option in the end but to do the negotiating with the Chinese as they refused to deal with anyone else. He tried very hard to get the ambassador from Nanking to do the negotiating but the Chinese were not having a bar of that.

    The book seems to suggest that the local PLA commander had got himself into hot water with his superiors by shelling the Amethyst and he wasn't going to let anyone else in on the proceedings while he tried to sort it out.

    Incidentally, the book is very revealing as to a number of matters. It is a long time since I have seen the film and I seem to recall that it showed the first attempt to rescue the Amethyst be the destroyer HMS Consort. However, there was a second attempt by the cruiser HMS London and frigate HMS Black Swan. Both ships suffered damage and casualties and were forced to retreat. The sight of an 8" gun cruiser in the Yangtze must have been impressive but she would have been the proverbial barn door for the shore batteries whose shooting was very accurate.

    What the film also didn't show, as the information has not long been public, was that the destroyer HMS Concord went up river to escort the Amethyst past the forts at Woosung which had fallen into communist hands since the Amethyst had sailed up river. At the time it was said that she had met the Amethyst once that vessel had left the river but it was false and was subject to a deliberate cover up which was the cause of some unhappiness among her crew.
     
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  15. My old man was a P.O. Steward @ Ganges at the time of the film and detailed to look after Richard Todd, when he left he gave my father a crate of good bubbly, and lo and behold thats how my young brother Philip was conceived.
     
  16. janner

    janner War Hero Book Reviewer

    I worked with a ex stoker off of the Ametyst, He went into the Police and is still about, still attending the Ballroom classes in the village until recently. Sadly now he needs to use a wheelchair most of the time. I think he is around the 80 mark now.
     
  17. Wasn't the engineering officer of Amethyst at Ganges in 1959/60. I seem to remember some attachment to Amethyst. Chap had a limp said to be from injuries sustained. :cool:
     

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