HMS London
Message Board

Apr. 2, 2021

I was a sixteen year old boy/seaman on H.M.S. London during the Yangtze Incident in 1949. Wonder if there are any records of any of the boys still surviving. Would much appreciate any feedback.

Many thanks,
Boy First Class Derek Rothon

July 9, 2020

I am currently researching an individual who was previously in the Royal Navy and, it is believed, served on HMS London during the Yangtze Incident. The individual is C/SSX.819847 J. Aldrich. I was very much hoping that you may be able to confirm that he was on board the HMS London at this time? As I live in Canada, it is very difficult for me to conduct research of this type and any assistance would be very greatly appreciated.

Thank you very much,
Mark Wagner

Oct. 26, 2019

I am looking for any info about my great uncle who served aboard London during the Yangtze Incident, his name was Fred Trevis. I don't know his rank or anything, that's why i'm inquiring. I hope you can help.

Michael Leonards

Reply 1
May 8, 2021

My grandmother was the sister of Fred Trevis and we do remember Uncle Fred, the sailor in our family who went to war on HMS London.

Kind regards,
Robert Mann

Dec. 10, 2018

I have been researching my mother's first husband who was Able Seaman Walter (Wally) Prescott who served on the HMS London and was seriously injured during the Yangtze incident. As a result of his injuries he became a paraplegic. On his return to the UK he spent much time rehabilitating at Stoke Mandeville. I never knew him and wondered if there are any survivors out there, who had the pleasure of knowing this brave young man and could share any stories, photos or information with me.

Kind regards,
Carol Crawford

June 8, 2018

My grandfather was in the Royal Navy and served on the HMS London and was involved in the Yangtze incident. He was a able seaman called Roy Cunningham. I was wondering if you had any pictures/ info on him. I have pictures of him and all his medals if that helps?

Jill Cunningham

Reply 1
Feb. 9, 2020

Roy was my cousin and he lived, during his time before he got called up and during his time in the Royal Navy, with his uncle Harry, Wilfred Harry Ward, at 16 Prestige St, Longsight, Manchester. Roy, to my knowledge, received a medal during the Yangtze Incident for diving overboard into the Yangtze to save an officer who had fallen overboard.

Upon his return to the UK he was asked what he would like to do for the remainder of his service before being demobbed. He did ask to go on a submarine, but was told he was much too tall so he asked if his fiancé could join him on board. This was granted and they were given a cabin. Not sure whether it was just for her!!! But they went to Norway on board the ship.

My daughter Caroline has details of my family tree and upon her return to the UK next weekend, Caroline lives in Germany, I will ask her if there is any information about Roy. I think his mother died whilst Roy was quite young and not too sure about what happened to his father.

Kindest regards,
Bill Hemment

Mar. 6, 2018

Concerning HMS London and the Yangtze Incident 1949.
I was wondering if anybody had any details regarding HMS London's crew that were involved in the Yangtze Incident of 1949. I believe the following individual served aboard the ship, but unfortunately I do not have his Navy service number.

[1] George Desmond Jonathon Smith.
[2] Born 1928/Peterborough, Cambridgeshire.
[3] Served in the Royal Navy in 1944 to 1949.
[4] Served on HMS London in 1949 during the Yangtze Incident.
[5] Released from the Royal Navy and on the 1st of November in 1949 joined the Huntingdon County Police.

I know this is a long shot but it is still worth checking.

Many thanks,
Alan Baird
Scottish Borders

Mar. 26, 2014

I was wondering if you would kindly check the crew list for HMS Amethyst for the Yangtze Incident in 1949
for a crew member - 127701 A. E. WALL, A.B. R.N. Thank you in advance for any help you might be able to provide.

John Jarratt

Mar. 17, 2010

I found your website on a google -- I was trying to find out more about a story just told to me Monday by an old man here east of San Diego, California. He was ex-US Navy, a boiler technician like my dad was, though a little younger, so he missed World War II by that much. He was on a US destroyer in 1949 and we got to talking while we waited for the food pantry truck to come. He told me his name was John and approximately where he lived, but no specifics and I've forgotten the name of the destroyer he was on. The story John told me had to do with the HMS London.

He said the Chinese had told the Navy ships on the Yangtze to leave, and the Americans complied but the commander of the London refused to listen, was arrogant about saying no, said he'd leave when he pleased. So the Chinese on shore fired on it, and blew it to bits, blew its smokestacks off. The London couldn't return effective fire because it couldn't point its guns far enough down, so it was a sitting duck and then a dead hulk with many casualties. Then the American destroyer with a Chinese river pilot, under cover of dense fog at night, made its way up the river to the London to tow it out.  

Both ships were blacked out. It was an amazing feat of navigation, you couldn't see any distance at all in the fog. They backed up to the London and got a tow line on and towed it to safety. Along the way there was a cable across the river and the London's propeller screw got it wrapped around, and the English wanted an American diver to go free it. And the Americans refused, thought it was stupid since the London couldn't use its engines anyway with the funnel damage, and roundly thought the English commander was an ass anyway (my words) and told him so. The wounded were then taken on board the American hospital ship Repose. 1200 casualties!

That's John's story, as I remember it. Of course John was below decks, so what he actually witnessed would have been limited. And from what I read about the Amethyst and the four ships, there were only 46 dead. And he never mentioned the Amethyst, the Consort, the Black Swan or the Concord. So his story appears to be embellished or misremembered beyond all recognition. He must be around 80. Still, some of the details he gave do jive with some of the stories I've read--1949, the HMS London, the Yangtze, the Repose, Shanghai, the cable across the river, an escape at night, and maybe even stupid orders in the first place. 

He also said he ran into another sailor at a local restaurant once who had been in Shanghai after the London returned and said it looked like Swiss cheese. So, could an American destroyer have played any part in the rescue of any of the English ships? And would that have been covered up? Thought I'd ask, especially since I'm reading current news stories about the truth of the Yangtze River incident being covered up all those years ago. John's story about the tow in the fog down the river at night was so vivid, as were his stories of how to make fresh water from salt water at sea, how the boilers got the best water to keep salt out of the machinery, how he made a wind generator from scavenged parts... He seemed so independent and capable. Hope this is of interest.  A curious story to be sure, 

K. Lanham,
San Diego, California

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