HMS Amethyst U-16 / F-116
Message Board
Messages 100 to 124

Jan. 5, 2014

My grandfather Raymond McCullough (Amethyst) passed away today after being very ill from Christmas day, my father also Raymond, was very proud of his father and had many of his old photographs from China and Shanghai. I know this is a lot to ask, but if anyone knew my grandfather here or have family who knew him is there any interesting stories they remember to cheer my father up.

Thank you,
Denise McCullough

Reply 1
Jan. 7, 2014

I served with your Grandfather in HMS AMETHYST during the Yangtze Incident and it is
very sad to learn that he has died. I do not think he ever joined the AMETHYST
Association so I have not seen him since 1949.

If you tell me the location and details of your Grandfather's funeral it might be possible
for one of our members to attend the funeral, but we are all quite old now and cannot
travel far. Your Grandfather appears in several of my pictures which I took whilst the
ship was trapped in the Yangtze.

Best wishes,
Stewart Hett

Nov. 27, 2013

With sadness we announce the death of Herbert Pearce. He died on 21 November 2013. Bert Pearce served on board HMS AMETHYST during the Korean War. He was an active member of the AMETHYST association. His funeral is at 1100 on Tuesday 10 December at Grantham Crematorium, Harrowby Rd, Grantham, NG31 9DT.

Stewart Hett
HMS Ametyhst Association

Nov. 4, 2013

My Grandfather is Thomas John Townsend and sadly he passed away in February 2004. He was aboard HMS Amethyst and involved in the Yangtze Incident. He spent his 19th birthday aboard her. He was a member of the Amethyst Association and attended many of your get together's. I have taken some pictures of things he kept, I do not know if these will be of any interest to you but please feel free to put them on your site if they are. There is also a site that has some interviews of him on discussing the Yangtze Incident, this is the link I really enjoy reading your site and looking at the pictures, if you do have any others of my Grandad or indeed any memories of him I would love to hear about them.

Best wishes,
Siân Townsend


Nov. 2, 2013

My grandfather served on HMS Amethyst during the Yangtze Incident. His name was Ronnie Metcalfe, I don't know what rank he was at the time. He then went on to serve in Korea. How would I find out more about him as he has passed away now?

Anthony Metcalfe

Reply 1.
Nov. 5, 2013

Your Grandfather's name is not on my list of people serving onboard HMS AMETHYST in April 1949, nor is he in the list of names of those serving in her during the Korean War. So I have no record that he served onboard HMS AMETHYST, however men do join and leave the ship at short notice and list may have missed some names. When he left the Navy, your Grandfather would have received his service certificate and this lists all the ship he served in and the dates when he was in the ship. If he was in AMETHYST or any of the other ships involved in the Yangtze Incident his medals would include the Naval General Service Medal with the Yangtze Clasp.

Stewart Hett

Oct. 25, 2013

My great grandfather served on board HMS Amethyst. His name was Frank Harper. He had a daughter, Patricia Heather and a son. I have had trouble locating him on the websites given but I know I am very fortunate to have access to the actual war memorial. I take my sons there often who are 4, 6 and 8, my eldest son Jake used his great, great grandfather, Frank Harper as an example in his WWII project. i would, as would Jake any other family members out there who have any pictures or information on him.

Sasha Ogg

Oct. 18, 2013

I work as a Care Technician (teaching computer and internet skills to the elderly) and have recently begun working with a gentlemen, Ken Bull, who served aboard the HMS Amethyst from 1948 until after the Korean War. He was on board during the Yangtze Incident and told me today he 'celebrated' his 21st birthday during it!  He attended the 50th anniversary and reunion in 1999 in Plymouth(?).  He is keen to possibly get in touch with any other surviving crew members. Could you please point me in the right direction of any online groups/forums that might be of interest to him. Many thanks.

Catherine Alexander

Oct. 11, 2013

My great uncle D. Jones in the picture the Yangtze Incident on HMS Amethyst 1949, 3rd row. he sadly died last week 30/9/2013. I didn't know until today as he didn't like to talk about it.

Stacey Mabey
Gloucester, U.K.

Aug. 14, 2013

I have just come across your website as I'm trying to build my family tree for my son. Could I congratulate you on such a fantastic site it has me hooked. I am trying to gather information regarding my grandfather who served in the Royal Navy. I remember as a child he would tell me stories about the war and in particular his time on HMS Amethyst and about the Yangtze river. My grandfather's name was J. M. Dixon (D/JX 161220).

Simon Balmer

Reply 1
Aug. 19, 2013

There was a Leading Seaman J Dixon onboard HMS AMETHYST during the Korean War. He joined the ship in February 1951, so he was probably onboard when she returned to UK to pay off. I am sure he would be
your Grandfather. I am afraid I do not know anything more about him but I will ask around at our reunion to see if anyone remembers him.

Stewart Hett

Aug. 12, 2013

My uncle was a young doctor in 1949 and I believe that he served on the Amethyst, I would most interested to know if you have any record of him.  His name was Dr. Dick (Roderick) Butler.  Thank you for any information that you may be able to give me.

Carol Butler

Reply 1
Aug. 14, 2013

Dr. Butler was not onboard HMS AMETHYST during the Yangtze Incident, our Doctor was Dr. Alderson who was killed and replaced by an RAF Doctor. Dr. Butler is not in my list of people serving onboard during the Korean war.

I joined AMETHYST in 1948, Alderson had joined the ship recently. I cannot recall the name of his predecessor, but the name Butler does ring a slight bell. It is likely he would have been around 25 years old in 1947 if he was serving onboard at this date. I do not have any details of the Ship's Company prior to 1949 but I will ask around at the next AMETHYST Reunion to see if anyone remember him.

Stewart Hett

July 10, 2013

I was wondering if you could help me, I lost my father about 40yrs ago and when I recently got in touch with his family a uncle told me he had served on the Amethyst in 1949. I can can find no record of this and cannot find his naval records to verify where he served, I would appreciate any information you could give me his name was Gordon O'Brien.

Tony O'Brien

Reply 1
July 11, 2013

I was serving onboard HMS AMETHYST in 1949 and I have a list of men serving onboard in April 1949 and during the Korean War. Your Father's name is not on either list. Quite a number of men left AMETHYST just before she sailed for China in April 1949. Your Father might have been one of those men, who were in the ship during 1948 and early 1949. When AMETHYST returned to UK in the autumn of 1949 some men were loaned to the ship to make up numbers and their names would not be on my list. Your Father might have been one of these men.

There is a government website that can help finding service details of ex-service men. I do not have it to hand at the moment but you might try They might point you in the right direction.

Stewart Hett

July 3, 2013

I am led to believe my father was on the Amethyst, but disembarked at some point before it went up the Yangtze. He died in 1985 aged 62 and we never asked him about his time in the Royal Navy or his WW2 experiences. How I regret not talking to him about it. We don't even know if he was awarded medals. 
I am trying to start with the small amount of information we have.

His name was Patrick McCaughey and you would think with such a strange name we would find research
easier. All we know is that he was on the Amethyst and the Ark Royal. Also he was on Frigates on the Atlantic convoys and think he was on a torpedoed ship. He lied about his age to join the navy in 1940 we think he
was 17. I would appreciate any guidance you might have to help me in this quest.

Thank you, 
Catherine Smith (nee McCaughey)

Reply 1
July 4, 2013

You should start with this link.

Michael W. Pocock

Reply 2
July 4, 2013

I do not have any record of your Father. If he was involved in Atlantic Convoys he might have been in an early AMETHYST commission. She took part in Atlantic convoys. We have a few really old timers in our Association, I might find someone who remembered your Father and I will contact you.

Stewart Hett

July 2, 2013

My grandfather served on the HMS Amethyst when he was in the navy. I was wondering if you had any information on him, the ship he served on, what he did or any pictures of him? His name was Arnold Bennett.

Many thanks,
Ryan Dowling
Swindon, U.K.

Reply 1
July 4, 2013

I am afraid I cannot help you tracing your Grandfather. There were two Bennets serving in AMETHYST during the Korean War but neither had the initial A.

If you try this website it provides useful advice on tracing service records etc.

Stewart Hett

May 26, 2013

I wonder if you could help me please? I'm trying to find more info re my Grandfather, he served on HMS Amethyst and I have found a photo online of him on board the ship dated April 27/1949. All I know is his surname-Garns. He was estranged from my mum. I think his first name was Alfie or Archie?

Thank you,
Kim Calvert

Reply 1
May 27, 2013

Your Grandfather, Petty Officer Stoker Mechanic Albert Garns, served with me onboard HMS AMETHYST. He was one of the crew who remained onboard whilst the ship was trapped in the Yangtze River. As one of the few Petty officers onboard he had a key job in maintaining the morale of the small ship's company remaining onboard. His job in the boiler rooms meant he was working in terrible conditions whilst we were trapped, and particularly during our night escape down the river.

He appears in several pictures that I took whilst the ship was in the river. I attach two of them, in the first photograph which includes me and Commander Kerans he is 2nd from left in the back row; In the other picture he is 4th from left in the back row. I think I can identify him in two of the pictures showing the Ship's company
marching through the streets of Plymouth in November 1949.

The AMETHYST Association very much welcomes relations of our Ship's Company. Our next Reunion in 13 to 15 September 2013 in Portsmouth.

Stewart Hett

Reply 2
Nov. 7, 2018

I am researching my family tree and have come across the name Albert Garns who was married to my grandmother (her 1st husband). I have found he was part of the Ship's Company on board HMS Amethyst during the Yangtze River incident in 1949. I have found a post on your forum from 2013 from his Granddaughter asking for information about him.

I know due to data protection you cannot give me her email address, but I wonder if you still have her contact details on file if you could pass on my email address to her and ask her to drop me a line. I know this is highly irregular and not a request you would expect to receive, but I have been trying to trace any living relatives for many years as the poster on your site Kim Calvert has the same grandmother as me as she remarried my grandfather. Any help would be much appreciated

Paul Hawkins

April 1949: Quarterdeck of HMS Amethyst.
Front row left to right: Williams, Stewart Hett, Lt. Cdr. J. S. Kerans, Strain, Fearnley, Freeman, Peggy (ship's dog).
Middle row: White, Chare, Rees, McCarthy, Griffiths.
Back row: Blomley, Garns, Venton, Holloway, Irwin, McGlashan, MacNamara, Logan.

April 1949: Crewmen of HMS Amethyst.

Apr. 25, 2013

My father was part of the crew on HMS Amethyst he was able seaman Ronald Eddleston. I have his medal and he was on the ship during the incident. I also have his invitation to the dinner at Buckingham Palace. My father was traumatised all his life from his experience of seeing his friends shot in front of him. He was only 20 years of age when this happened.

Christine Bowen

Mar. 2, 2013

My farther-in-law's farther has a Yangtze medal with his medals but we are not sure if he is amongst your list of names, he was also like one of your other contacts from Chatham his name was George Cruickshank we believe he was a stocker on the Amethyst to have received this medal but he died in 1983.

Darryl Ashley

Mar. 31, 2013

His name does not appear on any of the Amethyst rolls I have. He may have been in one one of the other ships involved.

Michael W. Pocock

Feb. 20, 2013

I found this old photograph at my mothers house of HMS Amethyst 1948 Nanking. Photos of my father Wilfred Hindley are inset at the top. My mother has a replica of Simon the ship's cat in the front room.

Mike Hindley


Jan. 21, 2013

My father was the navigator on the Sunderland that put down the doctor and received the shots in his nav bag! His name Flight Lieutenant Maurice Marshall, unfortunately he died 14 years ago. Coincidentally I currently live in Shanghai. I still have his medals and flying log from the incident.

Barry Marshall

Full page.

Close-up of the first page.

Close-up of the second page.

Full page.

Close-up of the second page.

Dec. 21, 2012

Am just wondering if you have any records of my father in law Ronald Charles Daniels as I have found a cap ribbon with H M S Amethyst and medals from the Korean conflict.  I believe he served on this ship if you have any details.  

Thank you,
David Thatcher
Reply 1
Dec. 24, 2012

I have been unable to find your Father in Law's name on my lists.  I am sure he was not onboard during the Yangtze Incident.  If he had been on board his medals would have included the Yangtze Bar on the Naval General Service Medal.  As he has the Korean War Medal, he must have served in some ship during the Korean war.  His name does not appear in the list I have of the AMETHYST Ship's Company.  I am sure people were moved between ships during that war, so he might have been on board AMETHYST at some point.

Stewart Hett

Dec. 12, 2012

Bit of a strange request! I have a shop and a lady bought a ship's bulkhead clock with a plaque of HMS Amethyst. Says she took it to cover a bar bill in the pub she was running at the time. His name was Tony, and lived in Exeter who says he served on the Amethyst at the time of the Yangtze experience. He had links to Torrington. North Devon, but I cannot get a surname. Is this too long a shot to find out if the clock was indeed of the Amethyst?

Many thanks,
Lorna Lord

Reply 1
Dec. 16, 2012

I cannot help you very much if you only have a Christian name; I have the first name of some of the AMETHYST Ship's Company, others are only initials. I can say definitely there was not a "Tony" onboard when we escaped from the Yangtze. Of the men, with only initials on my list, there are one or two with initial "A" (Tony is short for Anthony). Your Lady's friend could be one of these.

When AMETHYST was broken up in the mid fifties, some items from the ship would certainly have appeared on the market. No doubt the clock is a genuine item from the ship, though the plaque would have been added after it left the ship.

Regards Stewart Hett

Dec. 12, 2012

My uncle Robert Holland served on HMS Amethyst and left the ship in Australia just before it set sail for China. He is still alive and often tells me stories of his days on the ship. Please let me know if you have any records of him as a crew member.

Thanks and regards,
Sylvia Fawcett

Reply 1
Dec. 13, 2012

I think your Father was in 6 Mess, January 5th 1946, a number of H/O's left the ship at Sydney to travel home for demob. just before the ship sailed for a refit in New Zealand. He may remember Taf James and the U249. The Amethyst Association Has no record of men who served  on board during WW2. There is a photo of the members of 6 Mess on this page. (HMS Amethyst Crew Photos)
He is welcome to join the Amethyst Association.

Charlie Chivers,
Amethyst Association

Nov. 18, 2012

I was wondering if you could help me trace some records for my Dad Brian Roberts who served on HMS Amethyst, to my knowledge he was wounded and taken off at Rose Island, he was only 17 at the time (a junior seaman). He has just celebrated his 81st Birthday. Does anyone remember him?

Bev Henderson

Reply 1
Nov. 21, 2012

I served on board HMS AMETHYST with your father. In the 1980s I met a civilian working at HMS DRYAD, who had served with me in AMETHYST. I suspect it might have been your Father, though there was a Signalman Roberts who was wounded and landed with your Father; so it may have been him, and not your father. I remember suggesting to this chap, that he should join the AMETHYST Association and meet shipmates at the annual Reunions, but I do not think he ever joined the Association. It is not too late your Father could join now, and our next Reunion is in Portsmouth on 13 to 15 Sep 2013.

My records only show the ship's company in April 49. I do not know how seriously your Father was wounded. He may have rejoined the ship in Hong Kong after we escaped. If he was sent back to UK for treatment, he may have rejoined the ship when we arrived in Plymouth and joined us in the marches in Plymouth and London.

We are all fairly long in the tooth now and our memories are unreliable, but if your Father has any shipmates he would like to contact, I will see if we are able to reach his friends. Let me know if he would like to join us and I will pass his details to the Trudy Sampson, the Secretary.

Stewart Hett

Oct. 5, 2012

Amethyst Association Reunion 2013 will be held at the Royal Maritime Hotel Portsmouth 13-15 Sept. More information will be promulgated later.

Charlie Chivers
Amethyst Association

Oct. 4, 2012

My name is Andrew Bannister and my late father, Stoker Samuel Bannister from Belfast Northern Ireland , served on HMS Amethyst during the Yangtze Incident.  After being seriously injured he managed to get ashore and was taken to a village hospital were he was operated on without anesthetic. He and some of his shipmates were then held captive as the PLA negotiated with the ships commander for their release.  Eventually they got back to the ship and under the cover of darkness the ship escaped.

My Dad went on to serve in Korea and left the Royal Navy after serving his seven year stint.  During the early years of his marriage he fell into hard times and sold his medals in order to help raise his family.  Sadly he passed away in 1996 and since then I have made it my quest to find his medals and keep them in the family.

Anytime I was in England I would have called into different collectors to try and find out who was in possession of my Dad's medals.  I could never get any information other than be told that the Yangtze medal was one of the most sought after medals for collectors. 

However, since the birth of the internet, I have been able to broaden my search and in August of this year I came across an advert, much to my amazement, showing my dad's three medals and his story.  They were being advertised by a collector and the price was £4000.  I immediately rang the shop advertising the medals but was met with the devastating news that this was an old advert and the medals had sold four years ago at auction for £6500. 

I asked the shop owner if he could tell me who had bought them but due to confidentiality he couldn't but he did however agree to contact the buyer to see if he would be willing to sell them to me.  I had to explain that I was Stoker Bannister's son and I was very keen to have the medals back in our family.  After a few agonising weeks of waiting the shop owner contacted me to say the collector had reluctantly agreed to sell the medals to me because of the family connection.  The collector is based in the Far East but the shop owner has agreed to act as mediators and have confirmed the authenticity of the medals however the collector now wants £10,000 for the medals-non negotiable. 

I have some savings to use for the medals but I have been in contact with different organisations to help me reach the target figure I need.  My hope is to display my dad's medals along with the story of the brave men involved in the Yangtze Incident at the Somme Heritage Centre in N Ireland .  If any organisations or individuals would like to help.

Kind regards,
Andrew Bannister
(Also see message 81)

Aug. 27, 2013

I would like to announce that I have successfully repatriated my Dad's medals (Stoker Samuel Bannister), of HMS Amethyst (shown below). His three medals are now back with our family after a long long search and much correspondence.  I have also been able to liaise with a local war museum ( The Somme Heritage centre ) who are very keen to hold an exhibition on the Yangtze Incident and centre stage will be my dad's three medals along with a certified copy of the coxswains log from the Amethyst.  If anyone would like to add anything to the exhibition I would be very keen to hear from them.

I was also wondering if yourself or Stewart or indeed anyone could shed some light on a query we have, it is rumored that the sailors involved in the Yangtze Incident were all presented with a boxed set of medallions witch had the captains hail on them i.e. 'Have rejoined the fleet- God save the King' If anyone knows if this is true or has any other details I would really appreciate it. Thank you Michael and well done on the upkeep of the website site.

Kind regards,
Andrew Bannister

Reply 1.
Aug. 28, 2013

I am so pleased that you have recovered your Father's medals. I have a large amount of Yangtze Incident memorabilia. Mainly newspaper cuttings, photographs, books and videos. I still get enquiries about the Incident so I often refer to my collection; consequently I would be reluctant to lend it all for your exhibition. It would be possible to make copies of photographs and newspaper articles etc. I helped to produce the YI exhibition in the Plymouth Museum in 1999 and I have photographs and correspondence linked to this exhibition. I would be pleased to help with the exhibition; could you say when it opens and for how long it will run.

You asked about a special medal. I submit two photographs. This medal was specially struck by George Hickinbottom and presented to those who were onboard AMETHYST when she escaped from the Yangtze in July 1949. I do not think we had your Father's address when the Reunion was held at which these medals were handed out by George. I do not know what George did with undistributed medals, so I cannot say if your Father ever received his medal.

Stewart Hett

Stoker Samuel Bannister's medals.
(Photo courtesy of David Bannister)

Oct. 3, 2012

For some reason I have resurrected memories from my childhood that relate to a local lad who was aboard HMS Amethyst during the Yangtze incident.  The following extract from an e-mail I sent to a resident of his village will show what my thoughts were:

Able Seaman Albert Williams [or AB Williams RN; Alby was born in 1930, a contemporary of my brother] lived in the terrace [SW3919434650] overlooking the fields (they have added gardens since my childhood!) towards the Stennack at Bojewyan perhaps 100 yards up the lane from Bojewyan House. He is of interest because he was aboard the RN frigate HMS Amethyst F116 trapped on the Yangtze River on 20th April 1949 narrowly escaping death when his comrade was dropped immediately beside him on deck; 19 yrs old Alby was so shocked that he needed a brief spell in the sick bay.

Upon his return home, the local headmaster (Mr. Luke) persuaded Alby to talk to us kids at Pendeen School but like a lot of the local lads was not given to public show and speaking. I suspect that everybody was awestruck since I cannot recall any special revelations. The shot comrade incident was told by Alby to my brother. You may find some octogenarians who can add to this and possibly can find write-ups in The Cornishman for that period. Sadly, Alby joined the fishing fleets of Newlyn and fell off his boat in Iceland and was crushed against a pier while still a young man, maybe just a couple of years later (from memory).

See this page for two pictures of A. Williams.

Phil Jilbert

Reply 1
Apr. 27, 2016

According to Albert's son Paul, Albert he died on 28th January 1959 in Cork, Ireland. See Message #157.

Michael W. Pocock

Sept. 11, 2012

I have been interested in the story of HMS Amethyst and Able Seacat Simon in particular.  I have written a song about Simon and was looking for a nice photo of him to go with it.  You have a lovely photo of Simon on your site and would like your permission to use it.

To hear the acoustic version click here:

Nigel Quin

Able Seacat Simon
(Word and Music Nigel Quin )

I'm gonna tell you about Able Seacat Simon
He lived aboard the goodship Amethyst
The only cat to win a bravery medal
His story goes like this:

His ship was caught between the warring Chinese forces
Came under fire from the Communists
Seventeen dead and wounded twenty-five
On the Yangtse River in April forty-nine

Seacat Simon He fought, he loved, he caught
The bravest little cat that went to sea
He comforted the crew
Though he was wounded too
Able Seacat Simon

He had a friend, ship's dog called Peggy
Between them they maintained crew morale
The captain said they gave the ship an air of domesticity
And could forget the heat and mosquitoes for a while

Simon had been injured by the shelling
But still he waged war against the rats
The captain said if we ever
Get out of here alive
I'll make sure there's an award for this cat

Seacat Simon He fought, he loved, he caught
He made it feel like home on the ship
He comforted the crew
Terrier Peggy too
Able Seacat Simon

Three months on The Amethyst returned home
And Simon became a big celebrity
But his wounds never healed
And the most courageous cat in his field
Was buried with full honours of the military

Seacat Simon He fought, he loved, he caught
The bravest little cat that went to sea
He was loved by the crew
Won a medal too
Able Seacat Simon
Lyrics © 2012 Nigel Quin all rights reserved

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Messages 100-124
Page published Sept. 12, 2012