Campaign for Yangtze medal gathers pace with new letter
March 26, 2010

A Scottish minister has urged the MoD to consider giving medals to navy veterans. Alex Neil, minister for housing and communities, has written to Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth asking why veterans from HMS Concord were not given awards after the 1949 Yangtze incident.

Veteran Derek Hodgson, from Lee-on-the-Solent, was serving in the ship when it travelled into the Chinese river to help rescue the stricken HMS Amethyst.

Mr Neil said: 'If they (Concord veterans) are to be denied medals given to the crews of other ships then it is only right that their evidence is scrutinised and, if appropriate, disregarded in the face of conflicting yet overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

'On the other hand, should the new evidence bring a fresh perspective to the Yangtze Campaign, it is fitting that their claim for medals is acknowledged.'

The MoD has consistently denied that HMS Concord's crew deserve medals for their part in the incident, which claimed dozens of lives when HMS Amethyst was attacked by Chinese forces deep inside the Yangtze.

Sailors from HMS Amethyst, Black Swan, Consort and London were among the wounded, and were awarded the Yangtze clasp to attach to their general service medals.

The MoD has maintained that because Concord was not involved in the fighting in April 1949, but later in the July, she did not face the same risk that the other sailors did.

Willie Leitch, an HMS Consort veteran, said: 'This is welcome news and will put more pressure on the MoD to accept facts.
Reprinted with the permission of The News
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Page published Mar. 27, 2010