Emerging from the Second World War in an apparently unassailable
position, Nationalist China under Chiang Kai-shek determined to wipe out
the Communists led by Mao Tse-tung. Civil war broke out. Although materially
weaker, the Communists with their high moral principals, superb generalship
and popular support, defeated Chiang Kai-shek’s forces and established
the People’s Republic on October 1st 1949.
Caught up in this conflict was the British frigate ‘Amethyst’
which had been shelled and trapped by the Communists on the Yangtse River
below Nanking on April 20th 1949. After three months of useless negotiations
with the local Communist authorities, the ‘Amethyst’ slipped
her cable on the night of July 30th and began a daring 140 mile dash under
cover of darkness down the flooded Yangtse to reach safety in Hong-Kong.
On November 1st the ‘Amethyst’ reached home and on November
16th the streets from the Horse Guards Parade to Guildhall were filled
with enthusiastic Londoners assembled to pay a spontaneous tribute to
the men of the Yangtse River Incident’ who, after a service of Thanksgiving
in the Admiralty Church’ of St. Martin-in-the-Field, marched to
a reception and luncheon given in their honour by the Lord Mayor of London.
On November 26th the ILN paid its own tribute with a special number entitled
“London’s Welcome to the Ship’s Company of H .M. S.
(Appendix List No. 136) in which the London
celebrations and highlights of the ship’s dash to freedom are portrayed
The cover shows the picture by C. E. Turner, “Amethyst Comes Home”,
surrounded by the familiar arch and wreaths. It is issue number 577, vol.
215, pages 807-840, measuring 37 x 26 cm and priced at two shillings.
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