Triumphal March Led by Kerans
Nov. 16, 1949

London in generous and rousing fashion, today acclaimed 300 Naval and Air Force heroes of the Yangtze Incident.

From the mists of the Chinese river, the men assembled at the Horse Guard's Parade in a traditional London fog to be sent on their victorious march by the Prime Minister who inspected them. A service - a simple naval service - came first at the church, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, where the congregation of the service men, relatives and high dignitaries were bidden to "Lift up their hearts in love and gratitude."

Into the hearts

Then from beneath the statue of Lord Nelson, the heroes marched forward into the hearts of the London people, into a swelling roar of cheers - and tears - for it was a moving sight, especially when legless Leading Seaman Williams went by in his invalid's chair. These proud men, led by Lt. Commander J. S. Kerans, of the Amethyst, and the officers of the ships that took part in the famous exploit, London, Black Swan and Consort, made a stirring picture as they strode firmly through the city to the Guildhall, where they were entertained to lunch.

British Spirit

As the march continued, the mist disappeared and the sun shone over the gay scene as the men were received by the Lord Mayor of London (Sir Frederick Rowland) in the presence of Mr. Attlee, the Prime Minister, Viscount Hall (First Lord of the Admiralty) and other high officers. Before the distinguished company Lt. Commander Kerans eulogized his men and Viscount Hall told for the first time the damage Amethyst received. Commander Kerans, in what is probably his last public speech to his men before they disperse to continue leave, declared that from the very beginning of the incident, teamwork and co-operation had been the predominant features. "Your stand showed that British spirit in adversity is as firm and strong as ever it was." He said proudly.

Viscount Hall stated that in the first action Amethyst was hit 53 times by 75mm and 105mm shells and two pounder anti-tank shells. Electrical damage was widespread and lighting was almost non-existent. However with hard work and a great effort of improvisation the ship was made fit. And amid enthusiastic applause the First Lord declared "By their action the officers and men have shown that whatever tasks may be given to the Royal Navy the British people can have implicit faith that it will do it's job and do it well."

Simon was absent

Sir Frederick Rowland, Lord Mayor of London , had a particular word in his toast for "Simon the Cat" of the Amethyst. Recalling "a predecessor of mine," Dick Whittington, and his cat, he said "It is a great disappointment to me that you have not brought Simon with you in order that I might salute him in person." To the men he said "The city of London , the Commonwealth, and the Empire are proud of you."
-Author unknown

(Article submitted by Stoker Mechanic Thomas J. Flanagan, RN, HMS Consort)

Transcribed by Michael W. Pocock


Page published Mar. 22, 2008