Veterans seek end to the Yangtze 'cover-up'
By Emily Pykett
January 29, 2009

Veteran sailors are demanding naval decorations from the Ministry of Defence to acknowledge the part they played in helping a British frigate, HMS Amethyst, escape enemy fire during the Chinese civil war. To mark the
60th anniversary of what became known as the "Yangtze Incident", the surviving crew of the British destroyer
HMS Concord yesterday launched a campaign to be awarded the Yangtze 1949 Clasp to the Naval general service medal.

Sailors on three other British ships have already been recognised for helping to shield HMS Amethyst, whose
daring escape from the People's Liberation Army down the Yangtze on the night of 30 July, 1949, was immortalised in the 1956 film, The Yangtse Incident.

However, members of HMS Concord Association say their contribution - dashing 40 miles up the river at speeds of up to 20 knots, transferring stores and fuel oil to Amethyst, escorting her safely past the artillery of the Woosung Forts - has been written out of history. The association claims to have official documents showing
that in 1949, the MoD ordered a cover-up of the destroyer's involvement.

Bob Ainsworth, UK Armed Forces Minister, said the crew did not qualify for the Yangtze Clasp because the destroyer was never in a war zone and the men were never in mortal danger. But Derek Hodgson, 79, a stores assistant on Concord during the incident, said: "If you look at the ship's log you see that we had travelled well over 35 miles up the river."

-Emily Pykett

(Reprinted with the permission of Emily Pykett
© 2009 all rights reserved


Page published Feb. 7, 2009