MP backs call over Yangtze Incident
By John Ritchie
April 19, 2009

SCARBOROUGH MP Robert Goodwill is backing calls for a review of cases by ex-servicemen and women who say the role they have played in various military campaigns has been ignored. Last year Royal Naval veterans from the 8th Destroyer Flotilla Association met in Scarborough and called on the Government to recognise the role of shipmates during an event which they say took the nation to the "brink of a third world war".

They said the role played by members of the crew of HMS Concord during the famous Yangtze Incident of 1949 had been ignored, and they want the Government to re-examine the case. The event was made famous in a film, The Yangtze Incident, which starred 1950s screen idol Richard Todd.

Mr Goodwill said: "Former members of the crew of HMS Concord feel they have been denied a Navel Service Medal with 'Yangtze 1949' clasp for the role they played in helping HMS Amethyst escape.

"This is one of several cases raised by veterans in recent years who claim they have been unjustly treated by not being awarded campaign medals or clasps for campaigns they were involved in.

"I fully support the view of the shadow defence team who feel there should be a comprehensive review and re-examination of all these claims in order to resolve them one way or another."

Leading campaigner William Leitch says Government recognition of his shipmates' endeavours is long overdue.

He said: "Many people believe there was only one vessel involved in that terrible event. There were in fact four ships directly involved, Amethyst, Black Swan, Consort and London and crew on three of the ships were killed and all four vessels had men injured."

Mr Leitch says a fifth ship, HMS Concord, was also involved in the attempts to rescue HMS Amethyst but the role they played had been ignored.

He has written a short book about the dramatic events in the Yangtze River, which unfolded against the backdrop of civil war between the forces of Mao Tse Tung and the People's Liberation or Republic Army, and Chiang Kai-Shek's nationalist army.

"The crew of HMS Amethyst and the other vessels directly involved all received campaign medals for their actions. Amethyst came under fire from PLA guns and ran aground," said Mr Leitch. Those serving on HMS Consort made three valiant efforts to take Amethyst in tow, 10 of the ship's company were killed during the rescue attempts and a great many more were wounded.

"As a result of the damage and casualties suffered Consort had to retire from the action, but to this day the valour and seamanship of others involved in those rescue attempts has never been fully recognised."

To read Mr Leitch's account of the Yangtze Incident visit

-John Ritchie

(Reprinted with the permission of John Ritchie
and the Scarborough Evening News)
© 2008 Scarborough Evening News all rights reserved


Page published May 27, 2008