HMS Concord R-63 / D-03
Message Board
Messages 1 to 24

Mar. 18, 2016

I am writing in connection with my Father in Law, Able Seaman Harold William Russell, who was aboard the HMS Concord during the Yangtze Incident in 1949 and from whom we heard many many stories of his Navy Days. I am sad to report that Dad passed away early evening on 9th March 2016. As far as we are aware there is now only one remaining shipmate of the Concord still with us Brian "Taff" Dixon who lives in Wales and with who Dad had regular contact with.

Dad was a regular contributor to the Concord Association and was named Shipmate of the Year 1999-2000. He even kept his copy of "The Life and Times of HMS Concord" with him at all times. Hundreds of photos as well which he loved browsing through and recollecting when they were taken. He was even so proud that he had actually kept the camera he had taken the photographs with! His funeral will be held on Wednesday 30th March 2016. Just thought you should all know. Best wishes to you all and thanks for making his final years so memorable for him with all the newsletters etc.

Liz Russell
(Daughter in Law - Married to Harry's youngest Son Stephen)

Reply 1
Sept. 28, 2016

I too was on Concord during the Amethyst situation and there are still a few others about. I do remember him and somewhere I have a photo of a group of us with him sporting at the time a 'beard'.

It was Ironical that Concord did the same trip as Amethyst to Nanking at the begining of the year for a three weeks mission and during that it was us that that hauled across for shore to ship ( about 50/60 yards) empty oil drums to be filled with Oil and hauled across again and deposited in a nearby compound. I say it was us, we were boys at the time, and remembered how many miles, in total we ran up and down that shore line.

It seemed fitting that it was that oil which Amethst used to make her escape having just 9 ton left when we anchored safely passed the range of the Woosung Guns.

My action station through out was the Control room (TS) for the Guns so I really do know exactly what happened through out that night.

Your father in law would have shared in the gratification when we went alongside Amethys at 0500 and embrace there crew. ( some Rum appeared from Somewhere and aenjoyed by all even us boys. An event he would have never forgotten, I am sure.

Keith Davie

July 13, 2015

The Life and Times of HMS Concord
By the men of the HMS Concord Association

Photos, recollections and details of the career of HMS Concord. Including
details about Concord's roll in the Yangtze Incident and the Korean War.

2012 HMS Concord Association

To learn more and order click here.

Dec. 1, 2014

I have recently discovered that my grandfather served on the CONCORD during the Yangtze Incident.
His name is Harry Reed and although he does not often talk about this, as a serving soldier I believe that it would be a good idea to reunite him with some old comrades.

Andy Clark

June 20, 2014

This poem was in included within the HMS Caladonia Magazine way back in 1962. At that time the ship was used to train Artificers and it struck me that even though the ship was just used for training purposes a poem written during the Korean war still meant something to them. The words have great significance to all who served in this great little ship.

Derek Hodgson
HMS Concord 1948/50


At seventeen knots astern she sped
From Hong Kong basin, splendid sight
All gleaming paint and shining brass
Hands fallen in smart in white
But Concord 's gone Awa'

The heaving seas and howling winds
Of typhoons in the Yellow Sea
The griming rust and peeling paint
Tired sailors gulping tea
But Concord 's gone Awa'

The calls for fire, all guns blazing
Royal Salute with HE loaded
Red troops held off friendly shores
Beyond safe limits bores eroded
But Concord 's gone Awa'

Night patrols at thirty knots
A credit to the engine room
Three weeks' steaming, then Sasebo  
Eight hours to store and through the boom
But Concord 's gone Awa'

Jenny's Side Party working hard
To get her looking sleek
More elbow grease in any day
Than sailors in a week
But Concord 's gone Awa'

All the homes you've made
For sailors through the years
Happy homes, a happy ship
Here is the time for tears
Now Concord 's gone Awa'

June 18, 2014

I am trying to locate the exact ship that my father was on during the Yangtze Incident. He was Frank Chope a Chippy, one of his medals carries the bar "Malaya". I remember so well as a child listening to the radio as they reported on the incident. Thank you for your help.

Bob Chope

Reply 1
June 20, 2014

I would think it likely that only HMS London, a cruiser, would include a 'chippy' within her ships company, I am almost certain that we in Concord didn't include one.

All the best,
Derek Hodgson
HMS Concord 1948/50

May 28, 2014

I am so pleased I have discovered this site. My father was serving on board HMS Concord at the time of the Yangtze incident. His name was Leslie Belton he came from Guernsey originally. Sadly he passed away in 2007.
He was often telling us about the issue concerning the Concord not being recognised as being involved in the rescue of the Amethyst.

My Dad loved his camera and fortunately took pictures on that day, he took a few pictures of the HMS Amethyst when they came along side of her. I noticed on a web page yesterday that the pictures my Dad took had been used to show the Concord's position. I was aware that he had posted photo copies of his pictures to someone linked with HMS Concord, but I was not aware at the time the important reason why they wanted these photos.

After reading all the info on the web highlighting this issue. I now understand why this is so important to the men who were on HMS Concord that day. Also understanding my Dad's pride in telling this story to myself and his Grandchildren on many occasions. I had a few tears yesterday when I read the discussions that have been going on over the last seven years since I lost my Dad, he would have been so pleased that at last after all these years HMS Concord and it's crew from that day have had their ongoing plea for the truth to be told heard by the public.

If these men and their families had not persisted, this secret might have been buried and forgotten. I do understand that the clasp that was awarded to the other ships crews involved has not been issued to the crew of HMS Concord, which is very wrong and so sad. Trying to see this positively the men themselves and us, their families know the truth, and we know how dangerous that was that day to enter those waters, and to put themselves in a very vulnerable position to protect the Amethyst, and we are very proud of them and what they did will never be forgotten.

So pleased to read about the book too, hope that is still available, I would love a copy. Also would love to hear from any of the men that were serving on HMS Concord at the same time as my Dad, or any other ships you might have been on together, he took lots of pictures of you all, but in his album he has only written your nicknames by the photos. Thanks again for all the information that this message board has given me.

Julie Newman (nee Belton)

Apr. 27, 2014

As it is necessary for me to lodge a complaint, before I can proceed further in my campaign to have H.M.S. Concord recognised for its role in the (1949 Yangtze Incident, Campaign Awards System). Click on the link below to see the terms within the complaint which I have submitted to the Ministry of Defence Correspondence Unit. While making that contingent aware of the fact that I am also going public with the complaint. Please consider passing the link on to others.

Yours Sincerely,
William Leitch

Apr. 11, 2014

An observation:
When studying the many debates within the House of Commons during the weeks following the attack and incarceration of HMS Amethyst by the communist forces which became known as the "Yangtze Incident', one cannot but feel contempt for the hours and hours of prevarications leading to absolutely nothing by way of assistance to the stricken vessel.  Thank goodness that at the time we had the good fortune to have had an Admiral who was prepared to make decisions regardless of those held by the Admiralty.  It is indeed thanks to Admiral Brind who, regardless of the instructions not to proceed with an attempted escape, together with the Captain of Amethyst John Kerans, undertook to do this very thing.  Not only did he take this risk, he took a further one by sending HMS Concord many miles up the river Yangtze in order to help protect Amethyst from the expected gun fire from a gun battery located at Woosung.  He also ordered a further three destroyers located in Japan to hasten to the Yangtze Estuary to assist if necessary. The mind boggles as to what would have happened had the communist guns opened fire on the two ships.

All this happened very soon after the war and many members in the House would have had the experience of serving in one way or another.  It is a very different story now and one wonders just how much independent responsibility Service Chiefs have today.

Derek Hodgson
HMS Concord 1948/50

Apr. 14, 2013

My father was on HMS Concord in approx 1956-58. He was a signalman called David Bowling. He is surviving and would love contact with any of his friends. Please can you send me details of the best way for him to make contact.

Kind regards,

Oct. 30, 2011

A few of the remaining veterans of HMS Concord have almost completed a book covering the life and times of their esteemed ship,  It is hoped that finances will allow us to print in a hard cover book with around 140 pages.  It contains vivid memories, stories and experiences of various shipmates spread over its 10 year service in the Far East. The intention is to give a free copy to all surviving personnel or their next of kin.  However, the postage and packing will most probably over commit our budget and we would like to know if members would agree to pay such costs.  Until we have a complete copy the costs are not known and of course, those living abroad will incur extra. It would also be a great help to have an idea as to how many copies we should have printed and we would therefore ask those interested to advise us as to whether they would like to have such a book and if so, how many??  Financial help would also be welcome. 

Yours aye,
Derek Hodgson
(On behalf of The Book Committee)

Reply 1
Nov. 18, 2011

I would like to reply to Derek who wrote about the book that could be published on the message page of HMS Concord...I would be interested in purchasing the book... my father Roy Catt was an Able Seaman aboard HMS Concord at the time of the Yangtze  Incident.. and now has sadly passed away a few years ago.... he was a member of the Concord association..   I also may possibly want more as my son would be interested as would my younger sister and brother... if you could send this message on to Derek as he wanted to know who would be interested..

Yours sincerely,
Mrs. Christine Giles

Apr. 2, 2011

I write as  the son of 'Fish' Dalglish to say how interested I have been to read all this story about HMS Concord. I have today picked up a print of HMAS Canberra in which my grandfather Robin Campsie Dalglish flew his flag when in command of the Australia squadron. I put his name into Google just to remind myself of the circumstances of his appointment.

I chose then to do the same for my late father and found myself reading your story. You may not be aware that my father wrote a book 'The Life Story of a Fish' to which I often now refer as a reminder of his illustrious and happy 37 years in the Navy.

Having read your accounts I turned to the chapter covering his time in the Far East and his experience in HMS London at the time of the Yangtze Incident. It is significant that he makes absolutely no reference to Concord but as you would expect does name Consort and Black Swan. As Fleet Gunnery Officer on the staff of Admiral Madden you would have thought he would have been at least aware of the presence of Concord.

In later years he kept a sea diary for all the ships he was fortunate enough to command in which great detail of day to day events were recorded. Sadly he did not start the practice at this time in his life. However it would not surprise me if he knew that any reference to Concord was 'embargoed' so to speak then,  so it should remain even in the 90's when he came to write his book.

The diary covering his time in the Royal Yacht bears a very specific embargo forbidding me to publish any of its content whilst anyone therein mentioned is still alive - as that covers Anne and Charles who are both younger than me his story is pretty safe.  I would not have it any other way!

David Dalglish

Reply 1
Apr. 6, 2014

The above message failed to mention a very important fact about his father in that originally 'Fish' was on board the HMS London when attacked by the Communist Chinese.  He was supposed to be taking passage on the London to take over the captaincy of HMS Amethyst, but of course in the event, London had to return to Shanghai to avoid any further damage so much to the relief of this gentleman. John Kerans was sent down from Nanking to take command of Amethyst instead.

Derek Hodgson

Jan. 25, 2011


In recent times there have been many questions raised by the few remaining members of the ships complement of Concord and the concerns voiced by them with regard to the historical treatment given to the aid they gave to HMS Amethyst when escaping incarceration by the communist Chinese forces.

HMS Concord and the Yangtze River, the two appear to have been thrown together from the very beginning of Concords ten year sojourn in the Far East . Soon after its arrival into the China Sea she paid a dramatic visit to Shanghai, I say dramatic as whilst it was proceeding up the Whangpoo River to this city, a typhoon changed direction, and due to the narrowness of the this river gave cause for concern and with great difficulty Captain Donald decided to turn his ship around and head back to the much wider Yangtze. The situation remained worrying as the ships bow faced up river and in the very strong current the debris could have caused much damage. Sadly, often hanging from the branches of trees floating past, were many survivors for whom we could offer no help. A line was thrown to one person whom came near enough but he nonchalantly threw it back to us.

Only weeks later, the ship once again entered the river, this time passing the Whangpoo and the fort at Woosung nearby and on up to Nanking . It was summer but we were not allowed ashore, only in organized groups to visit various Embassy's and sights such as the Sun Yat Sen memorial. After some weeks it became very boring except for our telegraphists who after a watch were absolutely shattered after dealing with all the traffic they had to handle. It rather confirms our suspicion that the Concord was there as a WT Station, ie . ' the listening ship' and not a guard ship as later claimed. Concord again visited Nanking as 'guard ship' the following January 49. This visit was very different as it was mid winter and very cold, our ship was prepared for the tropics, not this. It was also far more dangerous as the guns were manned and everyone on board was given 'stations' to be ready for any possible attack. Ironically, it was during this visit that we loaded 100 tons of fuel oil into drums which then had to be placed on the jetty by jackstay, an awful job at the best of times but the severe cold made it even worse. We nearly lost a seaman, Bryan Dixon, who was knocked into the freezing water and it was only due to the quick actions of his colleagues that he was saved. It was this vital supply of oil that later enabled Amethyst to escape a few weeks later. Concord was later relieved by H.M.C.S. Crescent which was followed by the ill fated Consort which lost many men during the attack after going to the aid of Amethyst. There was also the disturbing fact that, around the city walls of Nanking were thousands of refugees living in dreadful conditions which must have resulted in many deaths. Many more would arrive as the communist forces approached nearer and nearer during the coming weeks.

A short time after the attack on Amethyst, London , Consort and Black Swan took place, Concord was again sent into what now had become a war zone which in effect was the Yangtze Estuary in order to patrol the area and presumably report any eventualities. A major event which was now to take place was the fall of Shanghai to the communist forces, an event which again resulted in our entering the river and placing our ship ironically quite close to the fort at Woosung in order to be available to British ships leaving the Whangpoo river on their way from Shanghai. Concord did go to the aid of a small Shell oil tanker and take off nationalist soldiers who had taken control of it. These men were then transferred to a Chinese crewed ship. The whole area was a sight to behold, hundreds of craft, large and small were heading down river to escape from the attacking Chinese communists troops. The trouble with this visit was that we of course, were aware of HMS Amethyst being held captive up river and the fact that we could do nothing about it.

The reader might wonder why I mention these incidents. I do so to illustrate the gradual involvement of Concord in the Yangtze area and the increasingly dangerous situations she was placed in. We were a young ships company, many being around 18 to 19 years old and having grown up through six years of war were used to some elements of danger on occasion but this was all very different. The April attack on Amethyst and others had made us well aware of the terrible damage inflicted on them as a result of being in the close confines of a river and yet here we were on the 28 th July 1949, back in the Yangtze but now preparing our ship for a highly possible gun battle at Woosung . We just do not understand why our superiors appear to want to downgrade our actions including sweeping for mines by means of using our asdics , a far from ideal way of sweeping but we had a very capable Scottish leading seaman, Duncan MacDonald, who even slept in the caboose housing the apparatus conducting the search. Whilst preparing the ship for a battle through which both ships would be very lucky to survive, the Chinese Nationalists constantly buzzed the ship with aircraft and their navy paid us more than usual attention, a leading telegraphist in our mess had served aboard the Indomitable when it was attacked by Kamikaze aircraft and each time he heard a plane come near, he would dive under the mess table. An action with a battery at Woosung had been a dread for not only the captains of Amethyst and Concord but also for the Admiral and his staff as is demonstrated within the Archives at Churchill college yet it is continually played down by those in Government and the Ministry of Defence even though they now agree that there was a massive cover up at the time. Just why these Departments adopted this negative attitude towards what has in many circles been accepted as a brave action by the Captain and ships complement of HMS Concord is hard to understand. The archives held at Churchill College Cambridge contain a vivid account of the event with the inclusion of top secret signals, telegrams and even the feelings and worries experienced by the Admiral and his staff. The Naval Secretary and others constantly refer to the Admiralty archives held at Kew but as has often been said, these records are in fact useless as the Admiralty of the day, with the exception of ordering the escape not to proceed, were hardly involved. It would appear that the only important document held by them is the Concord Log which unfortunately was replaced by a duplicate for many years.

Many have questioned the attitude of the C-in-C Sir Patrick Brind to this 'cover up' but it has to be remembered the actions of Concord were subject to the official secrets act as demonstrated by Lt. Commander Nigel Rodney when clearing lower deck on the 2 nd August 1949 and reminding his men that they must not discuss the proceedings with anyone when returning to port. This secrecy was maintained for 50 years and the Admiralty's press release of the 6th August 1949 stating that Concord was only waiting at the mouth of the river has continued up to recent times. The order given by the British Ambassador Stevenson that the incursion of Concord into Chinese territorial waters should not be made public has been carried out in full.

In view of the mass of evidence now available, is has to be confirmed that the HD Committee meeting to discuss an award definitely were given no information regarding the major contribution given by HMS Concord to HMS Amethyst during its escape.

Gentlemen, let justice prevail!!
Derek Hodgson

Oct. 29, 2010

Not having spoken to you for some time I thought I might bring you up to date with news regarding HMS Concord. Sadly, it was decided to decommission the Concord Association due to falling numbers as a result of that old enemy, old age and our last reunion was held in Portsmouth last May. It was very well attended and included a reception held in the Portsmouth Guildhall followed by the lowering of our Standard at the Sea Cadet Headquarters in Gosport on the Sunday. Ex Concord personnel and their next of kin may be interested to learn that a DVD of the event was made which also includes a copy of the 2001 Reunion together with numerous photographs. A copy of this will be on sale for £11 including postage. Anyone interested should contact our ex Treasurer Alan Ausden. I am also sending you a copy of an article detailing the risks Concord was subjected to.  It is, I am afraid, rather long but you may be interested in at least some of its contents. The interest of the Scottish Parliament continues and pertinent questions are still being asked, watch this space!

Derek Hodgson

July 16, 2010

The Naval Secretary's Review of the Yangtze Clasp; On page 4, item 18, The following statement is made:

It is alleged that CONCORD's presence in the river was covered up. Whilst this is not addressed in the medal file, published sources show that show that it is a matter of record that it was intended to conduct what might be described as a damage limitation exercise to prevent further detriment to British interests in China. It is a matter of record that instructions were issued not to publicise the fact that CONCORD had entered Chinese territorial waters. It would be reasonable to assume that this would have included a restriction on H.M.S CONCORD's crew publicly discussing their involvement. In the event, however, during a briefing to the press on Saturday 6 August, the Commander-in-Chief Far East Station, Sir Patrick BRIND inadvertently revealed CONCORD's part in the escape.

The Review continues to claim that press release by Admiral Brind brought the Cover Up to an end and would have had no affect on the award of the Clasp

At last, after months of denying any such cover up existed, written evidence has proved to the contrary. The press briefing by Admiral Brind took place in Singapore on 6th August `1949 and it appears that the only British newspaper to publish his words was the Sunday Pictorial. No other United Kingdom publication did so. If they had, this type of announcement would have certainly made headlines, it is just the sort of material to warrant them .. It is matter of conjecture as to how it was repressed but it cannot be denied that it was. It should also be noted that no report since has included it in its contents, particularly the so called evidence held in the National Archives.

This highly important admission surely cancels out many of the submissions stated in this review. It makes a nonsense of such statements written by the Minister Bob Ainsworth in answer to a question raised a previous MP Jim Divine and also earlier written statements included in letters from the Naval Secretary. We humbly request that now, at this late stage, the true involvement is accepted and a new consideration be given to the Risk and Rigour suffered by the ship's company of Concord .

Derek Hodgson
on behalf of the few veterans remaining.

June 8, 2010

My name is Cpl David Moorhead, my Grandfather was SSX815383 AB Francis (Frank) Moorhead RN 1946 -1953. I have dozens of photos and records for him during his time in the Royal Navy. He spoke most about his time aboard the H.M.S Concord and 'shelling' the Communists while rescuing the 'Amethyst'.

As a Military man myself I have often wondered about any service medals he may have had? Apart from a good conduct stripe his records showed none. Although on his wedding photo he is clearly wearing a ribbon on his naval attire, since which I identified as a NGSM ribbon. So the story on the site was of great interest to me. I would very much love to chat with any member of the H.M.S Concord crew who were willing, and I am more than willing to go to lengths to achieve this with anyone willing. Can you help in this matter?

Thanks for you time,
Dave Moorhead

Reply 1
June 15, 2010

I noticed in a recent update sent to the Maritimequest Web Site that you are interested in obtaining more information regarding your grandfathers service in HMS Concord.  As an ex rating serving during the period mentioned I am pleased to forward articles under separate cover which you may find interesting.  I am sure our newsletter editor would be be also interested in any photographs you may have of the period. I hope you will contact me if I can be of any further help.  The GSNM to which you refer would have been awarded for his service in Malaya.

Derek Hodgson

May 28, 2010

I have read with considerable interest various comments regarding Concord from 1948 to 50. As a young OS at the time of the so called Yangste Incident I have very vivid recollections of that day. However much has been said about it including a letter from myself on the internet. I am surprised that no one has mentioned another action in Which Concord was involved.

After leaving the Yangste we were sent to Singapore for a refit.On our way back to Hong Kong we were entering from the east (this quite unusual).I was sitting on an ammunition locker in my No.3's ready to enter harbour talking to a stoker who had served through the war,when suddenly there was a splash just of the port quarter. **** he said we are being fired on jumped to the alarm on the nearest bulked and sounded the alarm.

We closed up to action stations and returned fire as I understand it to some great effect.We had one casualty, Willy Piggy, who had large piece of shrapnel on his upper left shoulder which hit the bone and dropped under the flesh for about a couple of inches. Willy of course should not have been there as he was an Asdics rating and was rolling a fag in what he thought was a safe spot!!!! He was heard to say I've been hit before fainting.

The only damage to Concord was a damaged gash shute from the first shell. There was another consequence. Our chinese taylor had a number of suits finished in the after flat when a piece of shrapnel entered via an ammunition port and penetrated every suit both trouser and jacket.

Our Captain was on the bridge directing the ship's movements and trying to count the shots from the shore battery. The story had it they fired 96 shells at Concord but were obviously very poor shots. The shore battery didn't fare so well and were seen to flee. I believe that this was another occasion where all reports were gagged by the gobernment of the time.

Alan Lewis
Ex-LSPSSX 830689

Apr. 17, 2010

I have been reading with considerable interest letters on the internet regarding the "Yangtze Incident". I joined H.M.S Belfast on 14 October 1948 as a Boy Seaman which was acting as a troopship to Hong Kong. I joined H.M.S Concord on 17 Dec. 1948. The boy's mess was aft on the starboard side, with the quarter deck men on the port side.

We sailed for our first trip to Nanking on the 26th Dec. that year. I'm not sure when we actually arrive there only that it was extremely cold. We berthed alongside and with great difficulty unloaded a Jeep that we had transported for the use of one of the few embassies still there. We tied up alongside a factory that had produced 1000 year eggs!!!!! The factory was not being used but the flocks were still there and each mess was able to buy a bird. I won't dwell on the slaughter of the birds as they were all Alive. When purchased, cost would have been about a shilling.

During our time in Nanking we were invited to a function at the Canadian Embassy. Our transport was in open trucks!!! The journey to the embassy was through the outer wall (Nanking being a walled city). As we travelled through the city we passed ragged troops of National soldiers. We understood that Mao Tse Tong wasn't far away.

As boy seamen we undertook training in all the various trades, gunnery etc. I was interested in radar and was a watchkeeper on the 293. My number one was Queenie Cowell who I remember very well and he gave me very good grounding for when I got to Dryad.

Our next trip to China was of course to go up river to meet Amethyst. I was the duty operator on the 293. As all buoys and land marks had been removed the navigator was using the radar. Usually we only spent about half an hour at the PPI but it was felt too risky to change over so I stayed closed up until daylight.

I finally left Concord in October 1950. Travelling home on the Ocean. I was interested to hear that family members of Mr. Else now live in Whangerei in New Zealand I would love to contact them if possible as I have many photos of that time and may have one of their dad.

Regards Alan Lewis
Ex L/Seaman
Auckland, New Zealand

Feb. 16, 2010

Dear Mr. Leitch


I am writing to confirm that your petition-Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to make representations to the UK Government asking it to investigate the circumstances into the process for awarding medals to those involved in the 1949 Yangtze campaign and, in particular, whether this process was corrupted as a result of the exclusion of relevant and important documents relating to the role of HMS Concord in the Yangtze Campaign on 30 and 31 July 1949 will be formally lodged with the Scottish Parliament on 21 February unless we hear from you to the contrary prior to that date.

Your petition will be considered by the Public Petitions Committee at its meeting on Tuesday 2 March 2010 . The meeting will be held in Committee Room 1, Edinburgh, and is scheduled to start at 2.00 pm. The Convener, in consultation with the Committee, has indicated that you will not be required to give oral evidence to the Committee in support of your petition.

Members of the public are of course welcome to attend and observe proceedings from the Public Gallery. Alternatively, they can watch the broadcast of the meeting on the internet ( or follow the petitions progress from the information available on the Parliament's website. The information below may also be helpful-
  • Seats for the Public Gallery can be booked through the Scottish Parliament's Visitor Centre (telephone 0131 348 5200), (textphone (0845 270 0152), (e-mail ). Tickets can be booked up to 7 days in advance of the meeting.
  • The agenda and papers for the meeting will be available on the Parliament's website from the Thursday prior to the meeting. ( )
  • A substantially verbatim transcript of proceedings will be produced following the meeting (usually one week) and published on the Parliament's website ( ) .
  • MSPs who are not members of the Committee may attend the meeting to seek to say a few words about the petition. It is however at the discretion of the Committee Convener whether to allow a non-Committee member to speak.
I will, of course, advise you in writing of the outcome of the Committee's consideration of your petition following the meeting. In the meantime, to assist the administration of your petition I would be grateful if you would note and, where necessary respond to, the points in the attached Administrative Information. Please also complete and return the attached Equal Opportunities Form. I look forward to your response on these matters.

Yours sincerely,
Fergus Cochrane


Clerk to the Committee
(Text provided by William Leitch)

Nov. 7, 2009

My father William Else (see photos below) served on board HMS Concord during the incident and has always related the incident exactly as you describe it, I had no idea actually, until I read your article, that there had been an attempt to cover up the role of the Concord. I assumed that what he was telling me was common knowledge. Unfortunately my father died in July this year so the surviving crew members are now one fewer. I hope your campaign for recognition comes to fruition. I am researching my fathers life and would certainly appreciate any information you could give me in relation to HMS Concord. We now all live in New Zealand and my father is buried here in Whangarei which is in the north of NZ.

Many thanks,
Dave Else

Reply 1
Nov. 11, 2009

I was a fellow shipmate of your father serving on board HMS Concord during the Yangtze Incident way back in 1949. Whilst I do remember the name Bill Else I am unable to put a face to him. It is likely that we were in different messes and though a small ship, there were around 180 in its crew, so I might not have known him very well.  However, I have found a couple of men who do remember your dad and one in particular, Walter Sells, appears to remember him very well. 

It is, of course, many years ago but he does recall a rather amusing episode. Is he right thinking that Bill was from Derbyshire? His story is as follows; Our First Lieutenant John Rowe was requiring a new Quartermaster and your dad was an applicant. Such a position requires that he should be able to use a Bosuns Pipe and broadcast messages over the ships loudspeaker system. As a test your dad was asked to make the pipe 'Now hear there' and give the message. Bill made the necessary pipe and said 'DUST THA HEAR THAR' in his rich Derbyshire accent. Of  course, this caused not a little amusement throughout the ship including 'Jimmy' Rowe. I don't somehow think he got the job.

I don't know how your dad felt about the Concord but most of us who served in her during the ten years or so she was in the far east regarded her as something very special, the best ship ever served in was the general feeling. Most of us, including your dad, in those early days spent well over two years aboard her. A very long time when one considers that, apart from a short refit occasionally, we spent the whole time with no leaves, 7 days a week in conditions which were, shall we say rather primitive to say the least. 

A time when we bathed from a bucket, had a living space the width of a hammock and food that we prepared ourselves which apart from 'pot mess' was not exactly Jamey Olivers standard and fresh food which usually ran out within 4 days. And yet we look back on that time as being golden years, a time when the rest of the world didn't really matter. Mail was history and our world was this little ship. A time when we 'grew up' and learned just what companionship is all about.

The story of AMETHYST really only came to light in 1999 when it was realised that the part played by Concord had been very well covered up and we might as well have not even been there according to official naval history. Let me know if you would like more information but I warn you, your dad would have also been extremely annoyed if made aware of the attitude of men in high positions in this country and even that of a certain remaining officer of Amethyst. I don't know how much memorabilia you dad had but if you would like a few photographs I am sure the Concord Association can supply a few. Did he have one of the ships company? I am very sorry that your dad died so recently, he would, I am sure have enjoyed renewing contacts with old friends and the Concord Newsletter would certainly have reawakened old memories.

Best regards,
Derek Hodgson  
HMS Concord 1948/1950

William Else probably onboard HMS Peacock.

William Else (standing second from right) seen onboard HMS Peacock.

Oct. 26, 2009

A General Letter To Our Maritime Friends. Over recent months many of you will, I hope, have read reports from various sources regarding the story of HMS Concord and its involvement with HMS Amethyst when escaping incarceration by the Chinese communists when up the high reaches of the Yangtze river. If you have not done so, reference to the 'Vessel Index' will provide you with details of the occasion. 

Just briefly, at the request of Lt. Commander Kerans, Concord was sent 40 miles up river to Woosung in order to protect him from the heavy guns there known to be placed. Concord was ordered to return fire should Amethyst be fired upon also to make smoke if necessary. You will also be made aware of the desperate measures taken by the then Atlee government and admiralty to cover up Concords' involvement so as to minimise the detrimental effect it would have on the relationship with the fledgling communist government. Probably the most damning of which is the telegram sent to the Foreign Office and various other sources ie;  NO, REPEAT NO, PUBLICITY SHOULD BE GIVEN TO THE FACT THAT H. M.SHIP CONCORD ENTERED CHINESE TERRITORIAL WATERS by the Ambassador Sir Ralph Stephenson. 

Press releases from the Admiralty such as printed in the Evening News dated August 6, 1949 stated 'The destroyer Concord was WAITING at the mouth of the Yangtze prepared to go up river to aid Amethyst if needed' This highly misleading statement has since been used in almost all reports of the 'Incident' since so minimising the risks to which Concord was subjected to for many hours. In addition to this the ships log of Concord was taken away from us by Captain D. when taking over the escorting of Amethyst back to Hong Kong. No one has ever answered our questions regarding this.

The discovery of our ships log in the Archives held at Kew by our then Chairman of the Concord Association Doug Leeson in 1999 under the freedom of information act coincided with the 50th anniversary of the 'Yangtze Incident'.  The studying of the log by Doug revealed information not known to him and he was very surprised to read how heavily involved Concord was in the escape. The fact that Concord had never received recognition for what he thought was a very brave undertaking was disgraceful and he set about bringing out the true story. 

Finding out the truth was not at all easy and eventually an ex rating of HMS Consort Willie Leitch approached his MP Jim Devine requesting governmental information regarding the 'Incident'. Mr Devine raised the question with the then Armed Forces Minister Bob Ainsworth who, in a written answer, repeated the very same answer contained in the Evening News in 1949 except that he added that by the time Concord met Amethyst at at the mouth of the river she had successfully made her escape. This preposterous statement became the start of the campaign to correct a serious flaw in the history of the event. 

Again, thanks to the efforts made by Willie Leitch, he found the complete history of the event including signals, telegrams and a personal letter from a Commander Dickens to his father, an Admiral, giving behind the scenes information of the occasion contained in the Archives held at Churchill College, Cambridge. These Archives portray the fact that the Admiralty had very little to do with the escape and indeed tried to stop it taking place. The planning and direction came from Flag and his staff on board the Belfast.

The latest and I believe, last missal from the Naval Secretary in Portsmouth is I think the most disgraceful. It commences with thank yous' for my letters to First Sea Lord, Commander in Chief Fleet, Minister of State for the Armed Services and the Naval Secretary himself. Am I alone in thinking how discourteous and offhand it is for a Naval Secretary to be a spokesman for such high ranking officials. It just demonstrates the lack of importance they associate with us of lowly stature. He goes on to say that he has nothing to add to an earlier letter from the Minister and that there is no further avenue available to consider reviewing the qualifying criteria for the 'Yangtze 1949 Clasp.  I will come back to that later.

He then states that my suggestion that the crew of Concord were treated very badly purely for political reasons is entirely speculative and is unsustainable in light of contemporary official records relating to the clasp. Our reasons for thinking we have been treated badly are obvious and very sustainable and the documental evidence is there to prove it but of course they only read what they want to read and the records they refer to are Admiralty official records which we already know to be highly suspect.

His letter ends with the comment 'I am sorry that matters have reached this stage but it is considered that no further purpose will be served by continuing this correspondence. I regret, therefore, that the Department will no longer respond to your letters about HMS Concord etc.' I agree that further correspondence with this gentleman is pointless, he has never attempted to answer the more difficult questions and his own research which does not include the Archives at Cambridge is useless and one sided.

I would now like to approach this question of criteria for the Naval General Service Medal. It was instituted in 1915 and was issued until 1962 for service in minor naval conflicts or operations. My study goes back to the first medal introduced for the Persian Gulf 1909-1914 and since then every single medal numbering 16 in total has been awarded for SERVICE IN OPERATIONS IN ALL THESE CASES INCLUDING YANGTZE 1949. No where, repeat no where has it stated that service in any particular ship was necessary. 

Contained in a Hansard document described as HC Deb 01 November 1949 vol 469 c201 201 is the following statement; 45. Commander Noble asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Atlee) whether approval has been given for the issue of a General Service Medal for service in operations on the River Yangtze earlier this year. The PM answered Yes, Sir. His Majesty has approved proposals for the grant of the Naval General Service Medal for specified service on the River Yangtze between 20th April and 31st July, 1949. A short White Paper on the subject is available in the Vote Office. There are very few members of the 1949 ships company left but I know that many dependants together with those still alive would welcome final recognition that a very fine ship HMS Concord played an important part in assisting Amethyst through what was a traumatic night for all participants. 

If you the reader considers our case to be justified, support by whatever means would be most welcome, email to either myself or the Concord Association. Or, of course, a letter. 

Derek Hodgson
HMS Concord 1948/50

June 29, 2009

In continuing my research into the Amethyst incident I seem to find information which I had not been aware of before and thought, perhaps, it may be of interest to you. For example: An officer serving in HMS London named James Stephen Dalglish also known as 'Fish' Dalglish had been nominated to to take command of Amethyst and try and extricate her. Of course the London was not able to reach Amethyst and to his stated relief Lt. Commander Kerans was sent from Nanking to replace him. His final appointment was in 1961 when he was given command of the Bulwark. Had HMS London managed to get through, history would have been somewhat different

The next item is probably well known but I have to say that I was not really aware of it. It concerns Sir Peter Berger who navigated the Amethyst up the Yangtze river at the time of the attack and though seriously injured he organised the disposal of the cypher machines and code books. He also supplied small arms to the sailors to protect against boarding parties. His injuries were so bad however, that he was sent to Shanghai for treatment.  I believe he subsequently returned to Amethyst for the journey home.

What strikes me about this is the resulting appointment of Stewart Hett as navigating officer and the consequent highly complicated navigation he had to undertake in the escape of his ship. In my own search for fair play I am surprised that he did not receive more plaudits for his skill. The Yangtze river is, after all, massive, over 3,000 miles long and renowned for the large amount of silt carried down it. The lower reaches were a nightmare to the navigator with its varied sand banks and shoals and it is written that merchant vessels were supplied with two pilots  for the journey from Shanghai to Nanking. Amethyst was travelling at high speed, at night and presumably having no up to date charts and still arrived at Woosung at the specified time of 0530.

Finally, back to my own problems in trying to correct misinformation of the past. The Naval Secretary in Portsmouth continually forwards so called answers to questions I have raised with officialdom. One stock answer is that 'The HD Committee' meeting to award the G.S.M. medal would have been well aware of Concords' part in the incident. In his last letter he mentions that included in that committee was the Secretary to the First Lord of the Admiralty and the Permanent Secretary, Admiralty.

Now folks, bear in mind that it was this very gentleman who sent a signal ordering that the projected escape should be stopped, the same gentleman who would have been party to the statement by the British Ambassador that no publicity should be given to the fact that Concord entered Chinese territorial waters, the same gentleman who, being in the Admiralty would have been party to the official press release that Concord remained at mouth of the river. How could such so called gentlemen issue an award to a ship that they had blatantly stated remained outside territorial waters. How can we or anyone pay heed to their ridiculous procrastinations and deceit.

Derek Hodgson
HMS Concord 1948/50

May 18, 2009

An open letter to the survivors of the of HMS Amethyst during the 'Yangtze Incident'.

Unfortunately, we the remaining crew of HMS Concord during the above period, like yourselves are becoming fewer and fewer and it was made the more obvious by the numbers attending our reunion in Bridlington recently. The recent publicity outlined in an  issue of The Portsmouth News concerning the Concords' participation in assisting in the escape of Amethyst during the night of the 30th/31st July 1949 gave rise to a great deal summarizing and discussion and sorrow, yes sorrow that we do not appear to have the support of some of the crew of Amethyst serving at the time. 

A certain gentleman still insists that the two ships met up with each other at the mouth and not 40 miles up river at Woosung. It surely is now proved by the many official documents that your captain at the time Lt. Cdr. Kerans, right from the beginning, requested that Concord should be placed at Woosung ready to open fire on the Fort should the heavy guns fire at Amethyst. This operation was carried out to the letter and the two ships passed each other above Woosung much to the great relief of all due to the obvious fact the the Concord had not been attacked and the fear that this would be the critical point of the escape was lessened. 

However, Concord was facing the wrong way and had to turn round in order to catch up with Amethyst so as to shelter her when passing the Fort. This was no easy matter as there was, according to the chart, considerable shoaling around the area and both captains and navigators are to be congratulated for there handling of the ships. The Yangtze was notorious for the silting up at it's lower reaches and it is unlikely that there had been any dredging of the shipping lane at that time of civil war.

All was not yet safe and both crews remained at action stations for a further hour and a half until reaching the safety of the estuary. When finally reaching a place of safety the two ships went alongside and the crew of Concord did their very best to cater for the needs of the crew of Amethyst and indeed were proud so to do.  Much later, we thought we would escort Amethyst to Hong Kong but no, along came Cossack who, not only took away our Ship's Log, but told us to go on patrol off northern China, well out of the way!

Fifty years later it was discovered that a veil of secrecy had been placed over the part Concord played in the affair. Firstly, it turned out that the Admiralty had refused Kerans permission to make the attempt but it was too late, Amethyst had already left. Then, after the escape, the British Ambassador in Nanking sent a confidential telegram to all concerned that "No, repeat No publicity should be given to the fact that H.M. Ship Concord entered Chinese territorial waters"

The Admiralty issued a press release that Concord had been waiting at the mouth of the river ready to proceed up river only if Amethyst was fired upon. However, Admiral Brind inadvertently gave a press conference on the 6th August 1949 as follows "The Navy was ready to fight for Amethyst, Concord had trained it's big guns on the Woosung forts guarding the Yangtze and a whole flotilla of destroyers was closing in to join her and if necessary go up river between the sand banks and blast a passage for the sloop which had been bottled up for 101 days".

He later confirmed that the assembled journalists at his press conference had not kept this information off the record as they should have done. We finally have the untrue statement of Bob Ainsworth at the M.O.D to a fellow M.P. that "By the time HMS Amethyst reached HMS Concord's position at the mouth of the Yangtze on the morning of 31 July 1949, she had succeeded in making her escape." We hope, you the remaining crew of Amethyst who know the truth, will at this late stage join us in our attempt to obtain just recognition for the part we played. 

There can be no doubt that we risked our lives that morning in the river. You, together with all concerned such as Admirals Brind and Madden, the staff of the Flag Officer afloat and yes, even the government of the time know full well of the very real danger both ships were in that morning. It could well have been an absolute disaster.  The current attitude of Bob Ainsworth and his like when advocating the lack Risk and Rigour in our case and the suggestion that the risk was potential and not actual should study the meaning of the word 'Risk' i.e. 'chance of loss or injury, degree of probability of loss, factor likely to cause loss or damage' I think our case meets this criteria very well, don't you?

Derek Hodgson
HMS Concord 1948/50

Mar. 9, 2009

I would like to refer to the recent message from Charlie Chivers RN stating the qualifications needed to warrant being issued with the Yangtze Clasp. He is, of course, quite right in his submission but fails to appreciate that the gentlemen responsible for deciding this criteria in November 1949 were not in possession of all the facts, they could not have been aware of the order given by the then British Ambassador in Nanking to the Foreign Office and all parties concerned that, and I quote 'NO, REPEAT NO, PUBLICITY SHOULD BE GIVEN TO THE FACT THAT H.M. SHIP CONCORD ENTERED CHINESE TERRITORIAL WATERS'.

Not only did this statement place an embargo on the truth but it also confirmed the serious part Concord played in the affair. As a result of this, the official press release given out mentioned that Concords' role was just to wait at the mouth of the river ready to proceed to the aid of Amethyst in the event of an attack by the heavy guns at Woosung.  This in itself does not make sense as by the time Concord could have reached Amethyst those guns could have finished her, such is the power of 9" shells. 

As the enormous amount of evidence shows there can be no doubt whatsoever that HMS Concord did indeed sail well past Woosung remembering that she not only had to pass Amethyst, she had then to turn around and catch up in order to give  her shelter. Does it not appear strange that even now, with all this proof and being so long after the event, the Minister, Bob Ainsworth should still see fit to give credence to this lie in a written reply to a fellow MP by stating "By the time HMS Concord met HMS Amethyst at the mouth of the river Yangtze she had safely made her escape". Also, why did Captain 'D' in Cossack remove the ships Log from Concord and why were we, the crew of Concord instructed not to talk about the affair when finally returning to Hong Kong.

I think I can speak for the remaining crew of Concord when I say that no one is trying to belittle the trauma and terrible ordeal suffered by the men in the four ships attacked, especially HM Ships Consort and Amethyst, they acted with bravery and maintained tremendous honour during the assaults and the many acts of heroism demonstrate this. The ships London and Black Swan, in their perseverance in trying to assist showed considerable gallantry. Our concern is that our Captain, Lt. Cdr. Nigel Rodney who demonstrated his skill in ship handling and fortitude together with his crew and of course, the very fine ship Concord should receive some credit for a job well done. 

When entering the river the crew were only too well aware of the tragedy that occurred only only a few weeks earlier and also had been informed of the heavy guns at Woosung. There apparently was also the possibility of further Batteries as far down river as Kuitoan, the place where we anchored for a time prior to sailing the further 20 miles to Woosung. The instructions were to return fire immediately should Amethyst be fired upon and it should also be remembered that Lt. Cdr. Kerans, the replacement Captain, had right from the beginning of the escape attempt requested that Concord should meet up with him at Woosung and it has been confirmed that he considered this area are to be the most critical. 

Everyone from the C-in-C downwards knew of the danger to both ships and that there was a strong possibility of a communist action at this point. Surely, all this together with a great deal of supporting evidence warrants a fresh look at this historical event. I would remind the reader of the criteria for issuing a Naval General Service Medal as specified by Bob Ainsworth is as follows; "To recognise situations where personnel have been subject to risk and rigour over and above what might be reasonably expected in the Armed Forces". 

Is it not possible that a ship, in the confined space of a river, having to face the possibility of heavy gun fire twice (up and then down river), would put the crew under some pressure and considerable risk? Whatever happens, no one can ever remove the pride we all felt when, reaching the open sea, the two ships went alongside each other for refueling and to provide supplies. Most of he crew came aboard and were welcomed to all the messes who provided food and anything else they required. It was somewhat spoiled later when Cossack turned up and told us that she would carry on the escorting to H.K. and that we were to go on patrol off northern China.

Derek Hodgson
HMS Concord 1948/50

Jan. 18, 2009

I have just read the true story of HMS Concord by William Leitch RN (HMS Consort) and the true story it played in escorting HMS Amethyst. My father served on HMS Concord at the time of the incident, he was a radar operator. His name was R.C.R CATT JX760425.

What I have just read is the story he told me time and time over again. Although didn't know about the ships
log. When the Yangtze Incident film was on TV he always watched it but got so cross every time at the end, as he always said that's not what happened they have got it wrong. Do you think they may posthumously award a medal to the sailors that were aboard the Concord? If so I would like to accept it on his behalf.

Christine Giles

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