HMS Concord and the escape of Amethyst
by William "Sonny" Leitch, RN (HMS Consort)

When Lt. Cdr. Kearns informed Admiral Brind in a coded signal that he intended to break out at 2200, Admiral Brind without reference to the Admiralty or the Foreign Office signaled H.M.S. Concord to assist H.M.S. Amethyst and should the Woosung Forts open fire they (Concord) were to return fire in support of Amethyst.

In the late evening of 30th July Concord proceeded up river where she was challenged by a Nationalist Gun Boat. Concord subsequently anchored and then at 0145 under cover of darkness she weighed anchor and proceeded up river at 20 knots.

At 0220 she spoke briefly with a Chinese Nationalist warship in the vicinity of the Tungshan banks buoy. 0255 came to starboard anchor Kiutan LV 289 degrees 1.8 miles.

At 0345 weighed anchor and proceeded course 285 degrees speed 20 knots. At 0415 altered course to 301 degrees then altered course to 290 degrees 0445 passed S.2 Knoll Buoy. 0450 altered course 300 degrees speed 16 knots. 0510 slow speed in vicinity of Blockhouse buoy. 0512 Amethyst contacted on radar Bearing 286 7miles.

0525 Amethyst in sight 3 miles. (Due to bends in the river it appeared as if she was coming across land to meet them) Concord signal Amethyst "Fancy Meeting You Again" Amethyst reply's "Never Repeat Never Has a Ship Been More Welcome" Kearns then signaled Admiral Brind copy to Admiralty "Have rejoined the fleet, no damage or casualties God Save The King"

0535 Concord on station 2 cables with Amethyst on starboard quarter. Course 120 speed 19 knots. 064 Kituan L.V. abeam to Port. Altered course to 115. 0710 speed 10 knots. 0715 Secured from Action Stations. 0740 passed Yangtze L.V. abeam to Starboard 1 mile. 0915 Set course 140 degrees speed 11 knots. Amethyst in station astern. 1158 engines slow ahead together. Course as required to attend to Amethyst. 1200 Concord proceeded alongside Amethyst. 1212 rang off main engines. 2 hours notice for steam. Transferred stores and discharged 147 tons of fuel oil to Amethyst. (When she hove to alongside Concord she only had 7 tons of fuel oil left)

1800 Lt. T. J. D. Grant was drafted to Amethyst on temporary loan, also 1 signalman and 1 telegraphist. 2000 slipped from Amethyst. And in company set course for Hong Kong. A short while later met Cossack (Captain (D) who ordered Concord to proceed on patrol leaving Cossack to escort Amethyst back to Hong Kong. Concords log book was taken out of service and replaced.

Admiral Brind, it appeared, had exceeded his authority by ordering Concord to assist Amethyst and it looked set for condemnation by both the Admiralty and the Government. Amethyst's escape had been kept secret up to this point. Then the story was leaked to the press. King George VI on hearing of Amethyst's escape, entered the arena by congratulating all concerned including Admiral Brind.

Until now, very little was known of Concord's true involvement it had always been "understood" that Concord had waited at the mouth of the Yangtze for Amethyst when in fact she had gone up river trained her guns on the Woosung Forts as she and Amethyst passed below.

Perhaps now at this late date the true story of H.M.S Concord's part in the escape of H.M.S. Amethyst from the Yangtze River 31st July 1949 will be recognized by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and as a result hopefully H.M.S. Concord and its 1949 ships-company will now be seen to have qualified in the award system appertaining to the 1949 Yangtze Campaign Medal.

(Courtesy of William "Sonny" Leitch, RN)
HMS Consort


Page published May 5, 2008