(The Sustained Deception of Parliament)
In Matters Relative To
(The 1949 Yangtze Incident)
For The Attention Of
All Westminster Parliamentainerians
By William Leitch
Members of Parliament,
Within this present day and age as each and every one of you will or should know, it has been written that, “A sustained deception of Parliament by Ministers seriously undermines the Executive to the House of Commons which is one of the essentials of our parliamentary democracy. We deplore the deception of parliament, the failure of HMG to correct false statements at the earliest opportunity, and the subsequent reiteration of untrue and misleading statements by Government Ministers. Suppression of information and facts from a committee, from Parliament and from the public are no way justified on the grounds of national security.”
Sixty-eight years ago upon the afternoon of 26th April 1949 the then Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, within the House of Commons, as well as the First Lord of the Admirality, Viscount Hall, within the House of Lords, were delivering a statement to all who were assembled within both of those House’s.
Today in this present day and age sixty-eight years onward in time, by typing that being bracketed here, (Hansard 26th April 1949) into the Google, search engine, access can be gained, ‘word-verbatim’ to what was actually stated by Clement Attlee, within the House of Commons and Viscount Hall, within the House of Lords.
Further, upon gaining access to that documentation it will be seen that Prime Minister, Attlee, while addressing all of those who were assembled within the House of Commons stated that which I now quote for its terms therein; * “I am afraid that this statement will necessarily be a long one. The House will wish to have a full account of the circumstances in which His Majesty’s ships were fired upon in the Yangtze with grievous casualties and damage.” * Unquote.
Then as follow up to that inference, both Attlee, and Hall, are on record in Hansard, as having stated that which I now quote; * “I will first explain what our position is with regard to the civil war in China.
It has been repeatedly stated in this House that our policy has been governed by the Moscow Declaration of December, 1945 in which the United Kingdom, the United States and the Soviet Union declared a policy of non-intervention in China’s internal affairs.” * Unquote.
Now here is that, which Prime Minister, Attlee within the House of Commons, and Viscount Hall, within the House of Lords, omitted to mention to all of those who were assembled within both of those House’s.
Upon 25th April 1949 the Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, and the First Lord of the Admiralty, Viscount Hall, while acting in collusion compiled a Secret Memorandum that was titled, CABINET SITUATION IN CHINA. From a copy of that Secret Memorandum I now quote from its terms therein, verses 1 and 2; * “We circulate for the consideration of the Cabinet the text of a statement which is proposed should be made to Parliament on the AMETHYST incident (Annex A).
2. Also attached (Annex B) are some details of the incident, not intended to be included in the statement to Parliament, though certain points may have to be brought out in answer to questions which may be raised there.” * Unquote
Here also for the record, at 8 a.m. on the morning of 26th April 1949 that Secret Memorandum was circulated to Members of the Cabinet and others, then at 10 a.m., on 26th April 1949 a secret meeting took place within 10 Downing Street, S.W.1, that meeting was chaired by Prime Minister, Clement Attlee.
Further for the record, being attached to this correspondence in P.D.F. format there will be a photocopy of the Memorandum that was compiled by the then Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin M.P., and The First Lord of the Admiralty, Viscount Hall, while acting in collusion on 25th April 1949. Add to that fact that there will also be a copy of the CONCLUSION from the CABINET meeting that took place within 10 Downing Street, S.W.1., at 10 a.m., on 26th April 1949 and along with that document are the names and positions that were held by those who were in attendance at that meeting.
Now here by way of digressing I am about to quote the terms used by an individual, that former Prime Minister, Cameron, was responsible for using in order to compile an, INDEPENDENT MEDAL REVIEW that touched upon the eligibility of H.M.S. Concord’s role as a unit that was involved in the 1949 Yangtze Incident.
From that independent review I now quote the following for its terms therein; *
“The need of this paper is to recommend whether, after over sixty years, the crew of HMS Concord should be awarded the Naval General Service Medal with Clasp Yangtze 1949.
The background in brief is that this medal was awarded to the crews of the ships, which took part in the action in the Yangtze in April, 1949, involving a Chinese communist attack on the RN destroyer HMS Amethyst, and accompanying ships, and the subsequent breakout of HMS Amethyst from the Yangtze in July 1949.
HMS Concord escorted Amethyst out of the final part of the river into international waters on 31 July but her crew was not awarded the medal. They have been campaigning ever since to rectify what they believe was an injustice caused by political reasons related to sensitivities of the Chinese communist’s authorities, a failure to understand the true risks they went through, and denial of the fact that they were in the river Yangtze in the period designated for qualification of the medal.” * Unquote.
Then, Prime Minister, Cameron’s retired Brigadier, Brian Parritt C.B.E., who is, in his retirement, a medal peddler, of sorts, wrote in continuation, that which I am about to quote for it’s terms therein; * “SUMMARY OF OPERATIONS ON 20-21 APRIL 1949.
On 20th April 1949. HMS. Amethyst was sailing up the River Yangtze to relieve HMS Consort stationed at Nanking. At 0835hrs a Communist Battery engaged her with heavy and accurate fire which killed the Chinese Pilot, mortally wounded the Captain and put the forward steering gear out of action. The Communist firing continued and many casualties were sustained including from a shell in the Sick Bay, which killed both the Doctor and the Sick Berth Attendant The Amethyst then opened fire. With her two forward guns out of action and to avoid further causalities the Amethyst ran aground. On receipt of Amethyst signal that she was aground and under fire HMS Consort sailed from Nanking and reached the Amethyst at 1500hrs she also came under fire and suffered many casualties.
The Captain of the Consort decided it was impossible to take the Amethyst in tow and in very difficult circumstances while suffering further casualties and without control of the forward steering gear managed to continue down the Yangtze.
During this time the ship received direct hits on its main wireless office the gun control transmitting station and the wardroom, which was being used as an operating theatre.
On the 21 April HMS London and HMS Black Swan were then ordered up the Yangtze to aid the Amethyst. Both ships came under fire at point blank range.
HMS London was repeatedly hit and holed in her superstructure and bridge. The Chinese Pilot was killed and the Navigating Officer mortally wounded, bridge communications were cut five fires were started and numerous causalities caused.
London then fired back with her eight-inch and four-inch guns and close range armament. The Commander in Chief then decided that in view of the determined opposition he would lose more than he would gain if he persisted in the attempt to approach the Amethyst, so ordered the ships back down the River.
On her way down, London was fired at again by five batteries suffering more casualties, although her fire on the Communists was extremely effective.
On the evening of the 21st an RAF Sunderland aircraft alighted near the Amethyst and succeeded in transferring an RAF Medical Officer and medical supplies but was forced to take off again owing to gunfire.” * Unquote.
There, within that Summary quoted above, is that which, amounts to the reiteration of a false statement, one that had been compiled in order to disallow questions from those who were assembled within both the House of Commons and the House of Lords on 26th April 1949.
Now see, Hansard, dated 26th April 1949, Attacks/on/Ships & the-yangtze-incident, as within both of those Hansard links, that which I am about to quote, for its terms therein is recorded there; * “I am afraid that this statement will necessarily be a long one. The House will wish to have a full account of the circumstance in which His Majesty’s Ships were fired upon in the Yangtze River with grievous casualties and damage.” * Unquote.
Then in continuation, both Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, within the House of Commons, and The First Lord of The Admiralty (Viscount Hall) within the House of Lords, went on record, as having stated, that which I am about to quote for its terms therein; * “I will first explain what our position is with regard to the civil war in China, It has been repeatedly stated in this house that our policy has been governed by the Moscow Declaration of December, 1945 in which the United Kingdom, the United States and the Soviet Union declared a policy of non-intervention in China’s Internal affairs.” * Unquote.
Now for the record and all to see, being attached to this correspondence is a photocopy of a Secret Memorandum that was compiled by the Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, and the First Lord of The Admiralty (Viscount Hall), while acting in collusion on 25th April 1949.
Within that memorandum, at item numbered 2. That which I am about to quote for is terms therein is written; * “Also attached (Annex B) are some details of the incident, not intended to be included in the statement to Parliament, though certain points may have to be brought out in answer to questions which may be raised there.” * Unquote.
There within that Secret Memorandum exists, the material allegation which establishes the
fact, that via an orchestrated plot details relevant to the incident were being wrongfully excluded, in order to disallow questions, within the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
Further, at 8 a.m., on the morning of 26th April 1949 the memorandum being referred to, was distributed to Cabinet Members, and others who thereafter attended a secret meeting that was held within number 10 Downing Street, at 10 a.m., a meeting that was chaired by Prime Minister, Clement Attlee.
Also being attached to this correspondence, readers will find a copy of the printed CONCLUSIONS, from the meeting referred to above, as well as the names and positions held by those who were in attendance. NOTE, in particular that, the Admiral of the Fleet Lord Fraser of North Cape, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff., is on record as having attended that secret meeting that was Chaired by Prime Minister, Clement Attlee within 10 Downing Street at 10 a.m., on 26th April 1949.
Now, further to the above and for its importance, a Dr. Gren Wedderburn, a Scottish surgeon who had been practicing in Shanghai, at the time when the Yangtze Incident, occurred, he in (1987) published a book titled, ‘No Lotus Garden’ and the ISBN for that publication is, ISBN 0 946270 37 6.
Within that publication, chapter numbered seven is titled, AMETHYST AND CONSORT, that chapter amounts to seven pages in total, and within those pages there exists an account, of Gren Wedderburns, involvement in the Yangtze Incident on 20th April 1949 when called upon by the British Consulate in Shanghai, to go to the assistance of “Amethysts” wounded.
From Gren Wedderburns, publication titled, ‘No Lotus Garden’ I now quote the following for the importance of it’s terms therein; * “I was sitting in my office when a man from the Consulate came in. He told me briefly about what was known, and asked if I was willing to fly to Nanking and go to Amethyst from there. In the early afternoon I was at Lung Hwa airfield boarding a US Air Force B-25, known in the RAF as a Mitchell. I sat in the right hand seat alongside the pilot.
The sun shone out of the cloudless sky on the green fields of the delta as the plane climbed away. After half an hour we picked up on the broad, brown, Yangtze River, navigable by ocean-going ships for five hundred miles past Nanking and Honkow.
Flying at a couple of thousand feet, the peaceful scene unfolded with our progress. We seen the trench systems, gun posts and strong point of the Nationalists on the bank.
At intervals of a few miles a gunboat was moored close to the southern bank.
They looked very unwarlike with their guns at rest and not trained northward; washing was strung above the decks.
Suddenly a vessel appeared in midstream. From her crosstrees on each side flew a great white flag, and from her foremast a long white pennant stretched tautly aft beyond her stern, held stiffly by the speed of her going. It was the destroyer Consort going at maximum speed. Seldom does a destroyer work up to full revs in peacetime, and never in a river.
A magnificent bow wave creamed back as far as the bridge; the wash spread in broad white lines across the muddy surface to crash astern onto the banks. Her guns fore and aft were pointed hard to port, flames and smoke erupting from them. Great splashes rose in the river.
An occasional explosion erupted on the south bank from an overshoot, but most of the shell splashes were several hundred yards astern. Consort was doing the impossible – running the gauntlet of a narrow channel against hostile, hidden, shore batteries, unable to turn or manover. All she could do was to cram on every ounce of speed, and fight back at guns unknown until they opened fire.
We circled two times, saw the blue sky, green fields, gray destroyer with her foaming wave, dazzling white pennants, angry red gunflashes, shell splashes, black smoke streaming back from the funnels and the yellow water of the Yangtze.
I thought of her Commander on the bridge, the gunnery officer laying her guns, the crew working like fiends, and the engineers hammering her engines near to breaking point.
The Starboard wing of the Mitchell swept up to the vertical I saw the pilot holding the stick hard over as he executed a violent diving turn to pull out almost at ground level.
“The aim of this mission is to get you to Nanking, doctor, is it not?” “I guess so.” “That little bit of aerobatics was when the bullets started to hit us,” said the pilot, pointing to some holes, which had appeared in the wing.
We climbed and picked up the river again where it made a bend to the south. There was Amethyst. She lay with her bow aground, listing to starboard. She seemed to
Simmer in the sun, motion list, out of action, crippled, a total contrast to the destroyer.
The pilot said we would make one pass. Turning away to gain height, he came round in a circle and put the nose down heading for Amethyst. There was no one on deck, no one looked up or waved. Then she was gone under the belly of the aircraft.
The Mitchell braked to a stop in front of the control tower at the empty Nanking Airport. As I shook hands with the pilot he said to me, “Well, you and I are the only two guys around who have ever seen that sight and I reckon we are the only ones whoever will.”
A jeep took me to the Embassy where the naval attaché a captain, asked me what we had seen. “Consort was terrific. I could see no signs of damage or any hits. Most of the shell splashes were miles out.” “Great,” he said. “We think she should be all right. She is well past the place where they started firing at Amethyst.”
I was wrong. Consort had received many hits, mostly in her upper works. Fortunately most of the shells were incorrectly fused and many went right through without exploding.
We went out to a truck where a colonel was standing. He showed me the medical supplies and equipment loaded on it. We were climbing in when a sergeant ran up.
The Communists had started to cross the Yangtze some twenty-four hours before the expiration of the Armistice. We all went back into the embassy and stood around conferring in the naval office. It was decided to abandon the attempt to reach the Amethyst as night was approaching.
The chances were that the attempt would fail and as likely as not both sides would start firing at us. A message had come in from Consort to say she had many wounded and that she was proceeding to Shanghai. All those present thought I should go back by the first night train before the line was cut.” * Unquote.
There within those quoted terms, is that which amounts to an eyewitness account of events that occurred in the Yangtze Incident on 20th April 1949, events that were wrongfully excluded in order to disallow question from those who were assembled within the House of Commons and the House of lords on 26th April 1949, events that when read into, paints a vastly different picture to that which for the past sixty-eight years has been referred to as the 1949 Yangtze Incident’s, Official Report.
Note: Upon page three of this correspondence I have provided the sources to, the two internet links that will provide each and every one of you with access to the written material within, Hansard papers, dated 26th April 1949.
Regardless of what link you chose to open you will find that which I am about to quote for
the importance, of its terms therein; * “Thus early on Tuesday, 19th April, the frigate H.M.S. “Amethyst” (Lieutenant-Commander Skinner) sailed from Shanghai for Nanking, wearing the White Ensign and a Union Jack and with the Union Jack painted on her hull.
When “Amethyst” had reached a point on the Yangtze River some 60 miles from Nanking, at about nine o’clock in the morning on the 20th, Chinese time, she came under heavy fire from batteries on the north bank, suffered considerable damage and casualties and eventually grounded on Rose Island. After this the Captain decided to land about sixty of her crew, including her wounded, who got ashore by swimming or in sampans, being shelled and machine-gunned as they did so: we know that a large proportion have, with Chinese help, arrived at Shanghai.” * Unquote.
There you have what’s recorded in Hansard, and for the past sixty-eight years has been referred to as the Official Report. Now note the terms that Cameron’s, flunky, or scape-goat, came up with while compiling his SUMMERY OF OPERATIONS ON 20-21 APRIL 1949 which can be found on page numbered (2) of this correspondence.
As can be seen there is no mention of the fact that when on 19th April 1949 the “Amethyst” reached a location on the Yangtze River, known as Kiang Yin, the “Amethyst” was stopped by a Chinese Nationalist Warship, and ordered to drop anchor, and darken ship, as no movement of shipping was allowed on the river after dusk. With that being the situation the “Amethyst” had an overnight stay at Kiang Yin. Then at dawn on the morning of 20th April 1949 the “Amethyst” got under way but, as a result of a thick fog on the river the Yangtze River pilot, on-board insisted upon the anchor being dropped until the fog dispersed. By 7.30 a.m., the fog had dispersed somewhat and again the “Amethyst” got underway.
Sixty minutes later as the “Amethyst” was approaching a sector on the river which, via intelligence reports, was known to be heavily gunned with Communist gun batteries on the north bank of the river, shells fired from a Communist gun battery, passed over and fell around the “Amethyst” without causing damage to the ship or injury to anyone on-board.
So, were those shots the warning shots of, or for, “Stop and State Your Business?”
Note, at that juncture the “Amethysts” Captain, Lieutenant-Commander Skinner, issued the following three orders, “Full ahead, both engines.” “Unfurl Union Jacks.” “Director, get on to target!”
The first two orders were completed. However, in relation to the third order “Amethysts” main armament remained in the fore and aft Position. Following that event, it is known
that, Lieutenant Commander, Skinner, wrote the details of what had transpired into a signal and sent it to the wireless operator to be coded before transmission to Hong Kong.
The signal was never sent as at 9.20 a.m., from a point of land named San-chiang-ying, not to distant from Rose Island, on the Yangtze River, a single shot fired from a Communist Gun battery passed over the “Amethyst.”
In response to that, Lieutenant Commander, Skinner, gave the order, “Full ahead both engines” and, for the record, [It was then that several shell’s hit the “Amethysts” bridge and wheelhouse, that’s what was partly! responsible for bringing about the “Amethysts” grounding on Rose Island.]
Members of Parliament, where within the Independent Medal Review, compiled and signed by Brigadier (Retd) Bryan Parritt, C.B.E., he is now on record as having written the following: - “On 20 April 1949 HMS Amethyst was sailing up the Yangtze River to relieve HMS Consort stationed at Nanking. At 0835hrs a Communist Battery engaged her with heavy and accurate fire which killed the Chinese Pilot, mortally wounded the Captain and put the forward steering gear out of action.”
There for all to see, and read into, is that which by way of example, amounts to, the reiteration of a false and misleading statement, which the former Brigadier, Bryan Parritt C.B.E., in order to compile an independent medal review, concerning the eligibility of the crew of H.M.S. Concord for the Naval General Service Medal with clasp Yangtze 1949 chose to write up. Further, on the date 9th July 2013 the then (Livingston Labour) Member of Parliament, Graeme Morrice had secured that which was termed, The H.M.S. Concord (Yangtze River Incident) Adjournment Debate, and it is on record that Graeme Morris MP, in concluding his speech stated the following; (“I look forward to hearing what the Minister has to offer and, perhaps more importantly, to whether he can confirm that the Government will conduct the review with due diligence and propriety. The House deserves to be told the truth and given an accurate account of HMS Concord’s role in the Yangtze Incident.”)
NOTE: I will be returning to the item bracketed within the above paragraph.
When the sitting suspended for Division within Westerminsterhall, upon resuming Mark Francois MP, Minister of State for Armed Forces, then went on record stating: - “I congratulate Graeme Morris on securing this Adjournment debate, and I thank him for providing me with the opportunity to speak on this matter. I will try to make the Government’s position clear. I will begin by speaking briefly about the Yangtze Incident, drawing upon the official accounts from the time.” Then in continuation he stated the following: - “For many years, the policy of successive Administrations was that no considerations would be given to reviewing the qualifying criteria for existing medals more than five years after the events these awards were instituted to recognize.
That general policy remains in place, but given the strong feelings of the veterans from a number of campaigns regarding several medallic issues, the Prime Minister asked Sir John Holms, a retired and respected senior diplomat, to conduct an independent comprehensive military medals review. He was supported in this by Brigadier Brian Parritt CBE, retired.
One element of Sir Johns work was a specific review of the eligibility of HMS Concord’s ships company for the Yangtze clasp and what I say now draws heavily on his conclusions.
It is clear from contemporary documents that the Naval General Service Medal with the Yangtze clasp was awarded for “specified service and the exceptionally trying and dangerous conditions in which their duty was carried out by the Amethyst, Consort, London and Black Swan and those members of the Army and Royal Air Force who were involved in the short period 20 April to 22 April 1949.
In considering this matter, the Holmes review accepted that HMS Concord did enter the Yangtze on 31 July 1949, as my hon. Friend the Member for Gosport (Caroline Dinenage) and the hon. Gentleman said. For the avoidance of all doubt, I am happy to place on record this afternoon. While there, Concord met HMS Amethyst and escorted her out of the estuary. It is of course, recognized that there was a degree of risk involved in this, given the shore batteries in particular. However, the ships log makes it clear that HMS Concord was not fired upon at any point.” * Unquote.
At that juncture Graeme Morris: Asked the following question: - “Is it not officially recorded that the river was also mined and therefore that there was a substantial risk to all vessels on the river?”
In replying to that question Mr. Francois: is on record as having stated, that which I am about to quote for its terms therein; * “I am not denying that there was an element of risk involved in this, but it is nevertheless a matter of record that the other ships involved in the action were fired on by the Chinese shore batteries, and also a matter of record that Concord was not.
The independent Holmes review concluded that those making the decision in 1949 regarding eligibility for the medal would have been aware of Concord’s actions, but did not consider these sufficient in themselves to justify a recommendation of an award of the clasp to the ships company.
If there was a wish to include Concord in the specified list, there was ample time to do so in August, October and November 1949, when the committee on the Grant of Honours, Decoration and Medals reviewed the qualifying criteria of the medal.” * Unquote.
This I will most certainly return to.
Now, for the record, under the heading of, YANGTZE OPERATIONS (MEDAL) (Hansard, 1 November 1949 the following facts are recorded: - “Commander Noble asked the Prime Minister whether approval has been given for the issue of a Medal for service on the River Yangtze earlier this year.
The Prime Minister (Mr Attlee) Yes, Sir His Majesty has approved proposals for the grant of the 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.”
Note: Here for all to see and read into, are the terms that are written into that White Paper; * “1. (i) The Committee on the grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals have had under consideration the need for the general recognition of certain service in the Forces on the River Yangtze in the period between 20th April and 31st July 1949 with special regard to the exceptionally trying and dangerous conditions in which duty there was carried out.
(ii) Their Recommendations have been duly submitted to The King, who has been advised by the Prime Minister on matters likely to give rise to difference of opinion. His Majesty has now graciously approved the recommendations setout below.
2. Approval has been given for the award of the current Naval General Service, with an appropriate Clasp, for specified service on the River Yangtze between 20th April and 31st July 1949 both dates inclusive.
HMS Consort 20th April 1949
HMS London 21st April 1949
HMS Black Swan 21st April 1949
HMS Amethyst 20th April 1949, to 31st July 1949 both dates inclusive.” * Unquote.
Now there for the electorate of the United Kingdom to see.
That short White Paper makes for what amounts to, interesting reading, in that, it tends to establish the fact that via the endeavors of the Commander-in-Chief, Far East Station, Admiral Sir Patrick Brinds, endeavors to bring about H.M.S. Amethyst’s escape from the Yangtze River, it was upon his orders that H.M.S. Concord, was deployed into Chinas Yangtze River, on 28th July 1949, in readiness to go to Amethyst’s assistance. Also for the record, prior to the time of HMS Concord being deployed into the River Yangtze on 28th July 1949 the Chinese Nationalists Governments Navy, had been indiscriminately mining the entrances to ports within the lower reaches of that river.
Now, when that environmental situation is considered that tell’s us all that from the 12 mile exclusion zone that surrounded the estuary to the Yangtze River, all the way up to the
location known as the Woosung Forts, the risk and rigor factor was significantly above that which might be expected to be tolerated by UK Armed Forces, and being that, that was the situation, it can be established via that White Paper and further documented material evidence, that H.M.S. Concord’s role as a unit that was involved in the Yangtze Incident during the period 28th to 31st July 1949 was wrongfully excluded from the nominations that had been submitted to His Majesty The King.
From that White Paper I now quote the following terms that can be found under item numbered 1 (ii); * “Their recommendations have been duly submitted to The King,
who has been advised by the Prime Minister on matters likely to give rise to differences of opinion. His Majesty has now graciously approved the recommendations set out below.
2. Approval has been given for the award of the current Naval General Service Medal, with an appropriate Clasp, for specified service on the River Yangtze between 20th April and 31st July 1949.
Royal Navy 3.—(i) Service in the following of His Majesty’s ships, on the dates or with the period shown: -
H.M.S. Consort … … …20th April, 1949.
H.M.S. London … … …21st April, 1949.
H.M.S. Black Swan … …21st April, 1949.
H.M.S. Amethyst … … … 20th April, 1949, to 31st July, 1949, both inclusive.” * Unquote.
Further to the above and for the record, in March of 2010 the Scottish Parliament Public Petition Committee that was dealing with Public Petition, PE1312 were informed to the effect that, ‘decisions on eligibility criteria connected to the award of military medals is a reserved matter for the UK Government.’ That little inference, to coin a phrase, put paid to the Scottish Parliaments Public Petition Committee, taking my petition, PE1312 forward.
However at that particular time, the job of replying to Scottish Public Petition PE1312 fell to Prime Minister, Cameron’s, newly elected Minister of State for Armed Forces, a Mr Andrew Robathan MP, who in replying to the Scottish Parliaments Public Petitions Committee, forwarded to them a six page document which had been compiled by a Mr S.J. Spear, Naval Secretary (Honours & Awards) SO1 Navy Command HQ., at some time in May 2010.
That document is titled: - ‘Review of records pertaining to the institution of the Clasp and the eligibility of HMS Concord’.
Within that document beginning at item numbered 3 under the heading of The Records, that which I now quote for its importance is written; * “In order to consider the question
why HMS CONCORD was not included in the list of units that qualified for the NGSM ‘Yangtze 1949’ clasp, it is necessary to establish why the clasp was instituted, that is what exactly it was that the authorities at that time intended the clasp to recognize. Under the provisions of Public Records legislation, once official Government records are no longer required for administrative use they are obliged to be reviewed with a view to selection for permanent preservation in the public interest. Those judged to merit permanent preservation are transferred to the National Archives (formerly the Public Records Office) at Kew. Records not appropriate for permanent preservation are destroyed unless they merit transfer to an approved place of deposit. As far as can be established, the contempory Admiralty medal records proposing the institution of medallic recognition for the Yangtze Incident were not selected for permanent preservation and transfer to Kew and can now only be assumed to have been destroyed.
4. The HD Committee’s records relating to this award have, however, survived and are now available at the National Archives at Kew in the treasury series of records.
The Treasury Ceremonial Office file, ‘CSM232: General Service Medal: Yangtze’, cover- ing the period August 1949 to June 1950, is available for examination at the National Archives at Kew under the TNA reference, T300/71.
These papers are not obscure memoranda as has been claimed, but are primary records of a senior Government Committee responsible for the institution of British Medals.
Rational behind the institution of the clasp
5. Examination of T300/71 shows that on 14 July 1949, at a time when AMETHYST was still incarcerated in the river, the Commander-in-Chief, Far East proposed the institution of medalic recognition “in respect of the recent operations on the River Yangtze.”
The submissions noted “From all accounts received, the behavior of all officers and men engaged in the operations has been excellent under exceptionally trying and dangerous conditions. Many of the men were young -17 and 18 years old – and thus had seen no war service.” The submissions also includes a record of the casualties “sustained by the Royal navy personnel in the operations.” *Unquote.
In continuation, there is a reference to the humane cost in all four ships Amethyst, Consort, London and Black Swan, the humane cost in total shows that 3 officers and 42 ratings were killed and that 7 officer and 104 ratings were seriously wounded.
Then within item numbered 6 that which I now quote, for its terms therein the following is written; * “The submissions also include the following; “The scale of the attack on each ship can be gauged by the number of hits received:
HMS CONSORT 7 105mm Shells 14 75mm shells 35 37mm shells.
HMS LONDON 18 Shell hits excluding a large number which did not penetrate or caused only superficial damage.
HMS BLACK SWAN 5 Shell hits.
HMS AMETHYST 25 Shell hits, excluding splinters and superficial damage (incomplete information).” * Unquote.
Members of Parliament, within the above bracketed there is the ambiguous re-mark, (incomplete Information), that I will be returning to but first of all under the heading of HMS CONCORD at item numbered 11 that which I am about to quote for its terms therein is written; * “Examination of T300/71 shows that the HD Committee were not
invited to consider whether HMS CONCORD should be included as one of the units whose personnel would be eligible for the medal. This is central to the veterans’ claim that HMS CONCORD’s part in HMS AMETHYST’s escape on the night of 30/31 July 1949 was
deliberately covered up and that the alleged cover up led to HMS CONCORD being omitted from the list of units that were specified as qualifying for the medal.” * Unquote.
For the information of everyone, by clicking on the link being posted below: -
You the readers will find a source of information to the effect, that in May 1949 a Royal Navy Officer by the name of Peter Dickens joined the Commander-in-Chief, Far East Stations, staff as Staff Officer Operations. Following that officer’s retirement from the Royal Navy in 1980 he, upon the following dates, July 1992, September 2002, and June 2003 deposited his collection of Naval Papers within the Churchill Archives Centre.
That collection mainly consists of naval signal logs from HMS Amethyst, there are also other papers relating to the Yangtze Incident such as reminiscences of those involved, as well as articles and correspondence.
However while searching through that collection, I found within it a copy of a telegram that the British Ambassador Sir Ralph Stevenson, G.C.M.G., while stationed at the British Embassy, in Nanking, on 31st July 1949 compiled and sent to the Foreign Office, from where it had to be repeated for information to the C-in-C Far East Station, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai Embassy Office, and Canton.
For the record and information of all, that which I am about to quote for its terms therein is
a word verbatim account of the terms that were written into that telegram, those terms, I now quote; * “Following further points have occurred to me in connection with public statement.
(a). No repeat no publicity should be given to the fact that H.M. Ship Concord entered Chinese territorial waters.
(b). Amethyst, in getting under way was forced to reply to fire directed at her by shore batteries. It should be stressed that she did so to the minimum necessary for self-protection.
(b). It might help to lesser the possible repercussions upon British communities in Communist occupied territory if public statements could stress that the escape of H.M. Ship Amethyst was due to the initiative of the officer in command in accordance with the best traditions of a sailor responsible for the safety of his ship and the welfare of the ship’s company and that his intentions to do so was not revealed to any of us out here.
As the Communists have refused to deal with H.M. Embassy in the matter which they have, in fact, insisted upon treating as a local issue for discussions between P.L.A. and the RN., such a statement on our part is logical and cannot repeat not harm persons concerned.” * Unquote.
Having quoted the terms within that telegram, word verbatim, I am now going to return to the material allegations made by Mr. S. J. Spear, the Naval Secretary (Honours & Awards)
SO1, and in doing so that ambiguous reference of his: (incomplete Information) for what it really amounts to.
When on 21st April 1949 the three Royal Navy Ships H.M.S. Consort, London and Black Swan in their damaged conditions arrived at Holts Wharf, in Shanghai, the news media was on hand and the question on the lips of most was, “What is the origin of the munitions that has caused the damage to the ships” they got no reply to that particular question as, before the dead and wounded were allowed to be taken from the ships, the ships companies had been sworn not to talk about the incident.
Well that information was an item which was reported by the news media, just as some photos of the dead and wounded being carried and assisted from H.M.S. Consort by U.S Naval Ratings, were published by the news media.
Now, following the arrival of the three ships at Holt’s Wharf, in Shanghai, the ships damage control officers began compiling their reports, the reports that gauged by way of the number hits the ships received and the caliber of the munitions that caused the scale of damage to the ships.
Note for the record: - From 1946 there was a power struggle between the Chinese Communist Party and the Nationalists. In 1946 the Chinese Communist Party created the Peoples Liberation Army.
The political power struggle escalated into, what became a Civil War. A civil war in which there could be no intervention by Britain, the Soviet Union or the U.S.A., intervention was prevented by way of the Moscow Declaration of December 1945 with its guidelines and policy therein (Non intervention into Chinas internal affairs).
Also for the record: Within exchange notes constituting an agreement between the United Kingdom and the Government of the Republic of China for the transfer of certain British Royal Naval vessels to China and the mutual waiver of claims in respect of the loss of
other vessels Mr. Ernest Bevin, from the British Foreign Office in London, on 18th May 1948 wrote the following to Dr. Cheng Tien-His: - “In order to assist in the post-war
reconstruction of the Chinese Navy and to consolidate the association between the Royal Navy, which has continued for seventy years, and in order to show goodwill towards the
Government of the Republic of China. His Majesty’s Government of Great Britain and
Northern Ireland are willing to make arrangements with the republic of China on the following terms: - His Majesty’s Government shall transfer to the Government of the Republic of China the ownership of the cruiser HMS Aurora and H.M. Harbor Defense Launches 1033, 1047, 1058, 1059, 1068, 1390, 1405 and 1406. (All of which launches are at present on loan to the Government of the Republic of China). The transfer will be made on the 19th May 1948.
His Majesty’s Government shall also lend to the Government of the Republic of China the destroyer H.M.S. Mendip for a period of five years on the terms set forth in the annex to the present note. Possession of H.M.S. Mendip shall be formally transferred by His Majesty’s Government to the Republic of China on 19th May, 1948.”
Note: - Following the incident on the Yangtze River 20th and 21st April 1949 the British Government, took steps to reposes the destroyer H.M.S. Mendip, in doing so, when H.M.S. Consort, following repairs at Shanghai, and Hong Kong, eventually reached Singapore, dockyard, the ships Company of H.M.S. Consort, were used to recommission H.M.S. Mendip, which upon repossession and re-commissioning was sent on patrol of Malay and Borneo.
Further to those particular facts. Here for the record are some more: - By April, of 1949 the Chinese Communists, Peoples Liberation Army, had advanced south across China, stopping on the North shore of the Yangtze. In retreat the Kuomintang forces or armies
of the Nationalist leader, General Chiang Kai-shek, left behind munitions, which were
picked up by the advancing Peoples Liberation Army and that is the munitions that were
being used by the Communist Peoples Liberation Army on 20th and 21st April 1949.
Add to that fact, that had the know-how for setting the fuses on those munitions been within the knowledge the P.L.A. Gunners, all four ships Amethyst, Consort, London and Black Swan, would have been blown apart in Chinas, Yangtze River.
Now, upon pages numbered 12 and 13 of this correspondence it will be seen there that I have quoted for your information, terms which Mr. S. J. Spear, Naval Secretary (Honours & Awards) S01 Navy Command HQ., wrote into items numbered 4, 5 and 6 of the document he compiled in May 2010.
Clearly from within those terms Mr Spear, the Naval Secretary (Honours & Awards) S01 is seen to be in his compilation of the review, from records, pointing to his examination of the TNA reference, T300/71 at the National Archives at Kew as the source for information appertaining to the 1949 Yangtze Incident, and as a matter of fact within Mr Spear’s
compilation of item numbered 4 of his review of the records that can be found within the National Archives at Kew, he is seen to have written the following: - “These papers are not obscure memoranda as has been claimed, but are primary records of a senior Government Committee responsible for the institution of British Medals.”
Well, if those papers, are not, obscure memoranda, as is being implied by the Naval Secretary (Honours & Awards) S01, then why were the following, all important, and relevant facts appertaining to the 1949 Yangtze Incident, omitted or wrongfully excluded: - “When the Yangtze Incident occurred on 20th of April 1949 involving HMS Amethyst and Consort, reached and rocked the powers that be within the Admiralty and Government Offices in London, it had become known on the afternoon of that date that the Communists had began their crossing of Chinas, Yangtze River, some twenty-four hours before the expiration date of the armistice, that date being, 21st April 1949.”
Further, by clicking on either of the two links provided on page three of this correspondence you will find, written there, that which I am about to quote for its terms therein; * “Meanwhile, the Cruiser H.M.S. “London” (Captain Gazalet), wearing the flag of Flag Officer second in command was also proceeding up the Yangtse at best speed. The three ships “London,” “Black Swan,” and “Consort” met at Kiang Yin at about eight that evening. It was found that “Consort” was extensively damaged; she was ordered to proceed to Shanghai to land her dead and wounded and effect repairs.
At about two o’clock in the morning of the 21st the “Amethyst” succeeded in refloating herself by her own efforts and anchored two miles above Rose Island. She could go no further as her chart was destroyed. Her hull was holed in several places, her Captain severely wounded, her First Lieutenant wounded, and her doctor killed.
There were only four unwounded officers left, and one telegraphist to carry out all wireless communications. Later the same morning the “London” and the “Black Swan” endeavoured to close the “Amethyst,” but met with heavy fire causing some casualties. This was of course returned, but the Flag Officer then decided that it would not be possible to bring the damaged “Amethyst” down River without further serious loss of life in all ships; he therefore ordered the “London” and “Black Swan” to return to Kiang Yin.
At Kiang Yin they were fired upon by batteries, and suffered considerable casualties and damage. Both ships afterwards proceeded to Shanghai to land their dead and wounded and to effect repairs.” * Unquote.
Then in continuation the following was stated: - “That Afternoon a naval and a R.A.F. Doctor with medical supplies and charts were flown by a Sunderland aircraft of the Royal Air Force to the “Amethyst”. Both the aircraft and the “Amethyst” were fired upon. The ship was hit, but the Sunderland managed to transfer the R.A.F. Doctor and some medical supplies before being forced to take off. The Amethyst then took shelter in a creek.”
Note, for the record, there is no mention as to whether or not shells hit that R.A.F Sunderland but the Crew of the R.A.F. Sunderland was recognized for their role in the incident, 21st April 1949. Now ask yourselves, why was there no recorded record of the US Air Force B- 25, involvement in the incident, after all that plane was fired upon, on the afternoon of 20th April 1949.
Here, I am now returning to page numbered 9 of this correspondence where I quoted the following: - “I look forward to hearing what the Minister has to offer and perhaps more importantly, to whither he can confirm that the Government will conduct the review with due diligence and propriety. The House Deserves to be told the truth and given an accurate
Account of H.M.S. Concord’s role in the Yangtze Incident.”
Well by clicking on the link being provided below: www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/805c1c1d-956e-4e15-ac68-da133425767d?in=16%3800%3A15 that, should allow you to gain access to the televised H.M.S. Concord (Yangtze River Incident) Adjournment Debate, which took place within Westminster Hall, on 9th July 2013.
Now upon the 9th July 2013 Caroline Dinenage M.P., ( Gosport, Conservative) attended the Adjournment Debate is on record as having said the following: -“I thank the Hon. Gentleman for securing this important debate. One of my constituents is a veteran sailor from HMS Concord, and his concern has always been that the Ministry of Defence denied that the ship was ever in the Yangtze.
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that Sir John Holmes’s medal review, which acknowledges that the presence of HMS Concord is now no longer in doubt, goes some way towards proving that my constituent and other such gentlemen have, for many years been right?”
In reply to that question Graeme Morrice M.P., (Livingston, Labour) in reply is on record as having stated, the following: - “Yes, indeed. I accept that point, and I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her intervention. I know that she has a personal interest in the matter’ particularly regarding the award of medals, and I will touch later on the Sir John Holmes Review.
Concord’s logbook was removed, and without evidence to the contrary nothing could be proven, until now. Despite efforts to prevent the truth from emerging, personal accounts of HMS Concord’s parting the events, given by my constituent Mr. William Leitch of Livingston and members of the HMS Concord Association, provide an overwhelming insight into to risks that Concord was subjected to when ordered into the Yangtze river. Mr. Leitch has been in touch with me on the issues over the three years since I was elected to parliament, and he is delighted that I am able to have this Adjournment Debate. He will no doubt be watching live on the internet.”
Upon that same day 9th July 2013 Mark Francois MP went on record as having stated the following: - “I congratulate Graeme Morrice on securing this Adjournment debate, and I thank him for providing me with the opportunity to speak on this matter. I will try to make the Government’s position clear. I will begin by speaking briefly about the Yangtze Incident, drawing on the official accounts from the time.”
Members of Parliament reflect upon the following, where within the above Mark Francois M.P., is seen to have stated; “I will try to make the Government’s position clear. I will begin by speaking briefly about the Yangtze Incident, drawing on the official accounts from the time.” Now if Mark Francois M.P., was trying to make the Government’s position clear by drawing upon what he has deemed to be, the official accounts from the time then why did he omit to produce, copy’s of the Foreign Secretary and the First Lord of the Admiralty’s secret memorandum, that was compiled upon 25th April 1949 and a copy of the Conclusions from the meeting of the Cabinet held at 10 Downing Street, S.W.1, on Tuesday 26th April 1949 at 10 a.m.?
Again for the record, copies of both of those items for there terms therein are being attached to this correspondence.
Further on record is the fact that Mark Francois also produced a copy of H.M.S. Concord’s
Ships log, the log that covered H.M.S. Concord’s roll as a unit that was involved in the Yangtze Incident.
For the recorded, the facts recorded within that log, establish the fact that H.M.S. Concord, was upon 28th July 1949 deployed into Chinas Yangtze River in readiness to go to H.M.S. Amethysts, assistance. The person responsible for deploying H.M.S. Concord into that river was The Commander-in-Chief, Far East Station, Admiral Sir Patrick Brind, KCB, and CBE; it was all part of his endeavor to bring about H.M.S. Amethyst’s escape.
Further for the record during the latter part of the Yangtze Incident Rear Admiral Sir David Scott, KBE, CB was Flag-Lieutenant to the Commander-in-Chief of the Far East Station, Admiral Sir Patrick Brind, KCB, CBE. Scott was later Chief of Staff Officer Submarines and Chief of the British Navy Staff in Washington D.C. He then held the post of Deputy Controller (Polaris) 1973 – 1976 and from 1976 until his retirement in 1980 he was Chief Polaris Executive KBE, CB. He died in January 2006.
Now for the record and its importance, upon the following dates, Rear Admiral Sir David Scott in July 1992, September 2002, and June 2003 deposited within the Churchill Archives Centre his collection his collection of Royal Navy Memorabilia the collection mainly consists of naval signal logs fro H.M.S. Amethyst while under attack by Communist forces on the Yangtze River this was also know as the “Yangtze Incident” and took place 20th April – 31st July 1949.There are also papers relating to the incident such as the reminiscences of those involved, articles and correspondence. The rear Admiral Sir David Scott material includes reminiscences of events from his boyhood; through to his retirement and also includes material detailing his career: certificates; a Midshipman’s journal photograph albums and correspondence, papers and naval signals, all of which establish H.M.S Concords four day role as a unit that was involved in the 1949 Yangtze Incident.
Further, lodged within Kings College London are newspaper cuttings that relate to the HMS ANETHYST Incident, Yangtze-Kiang River, China, 1949, and Admiral Sir Patrick Brind’s order, as Commander-in-Chief Far East Station for the successful breakout in 1949.
Add to those facts the following, at 2.30 pm on Thursday, 10th May 2012. I along with a fellow shipmate met up with Sir John Holms, and two of his Medals Review Team within room 223 in Whitehall London, during that meeting I furnished Sir John and his two colleagues the irrefutable evidence that was capable of establishing H.M.S. Concord’s role as a unit that was involved in the Yangtze Incident during the period 28th two 31st July 1949.
I also provided them with documentary evidence of the unknown fact that when upon the 28th of July 1949 H.M.S Concord was deployed into Chinas, Yangtze River, the lower reaches and entrances to ports on that river had been indiscriminately mined by the Chinese Nationalists Governments Navy.
Here I now return to where I left off on page numbered (10) of this correspondence, where the following is quoted: - “If there was a wish to include Concord in the specified list, there was ample time to do so in August, October and November 1949, when the committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals reviewed the qualifying criteria of the medal.”
There for all to see, on record is that which amounts to the political claptrap of the ignoramus Mark Francois, MP who by way of his wrongful diligence failed to recognize the following facts (1) On 31st July 1949 the British Ambassador, Sir Ralph Stevenson while stationed at the British Embassy in Nanking, put it about the Foreign Offices, in a telegram, that no publicity should be given to the fact that HM Ship Concord entered Chinese territorial waters.
(2) That in Examination of T300/71 it can be established that the HD committee were not invited to consider whether HMS CONCORD should be included as one of the units whose personnel would be eligible for the Naval General Service Medal.
(3) That the personnel of HMS CONCORD after their four day role as a unit which was involved in the 1949 Yangtze Incident they were in a similar fashion to the personnel of HMS Consort, London and Black Swan sworn under the (Official Secrets Act) not to talk about the incident.
Note, Being annexed to this correspondence for its terms therein is a six page document that was compiled by a Mr. S. J. Spear, the Naval Secretary (Honours and Awards) SO1 Navy Command HQ., and there after sent to the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Mr. Andrew Robathan, MP at the Ministry of Defence, who in May 2010 was responsible for Welfare and Veterans.
As all of you will see written into the terms of the first page of the (Annexed) document the following is written: - “30/31July. HMS AMETHYST made her escape down river, where in the morning of 31 July she was met by HMS CONCORD sent up river earlier that morning to offer assistance if required. Both ships subsequently reached safety, seemingly without being recognized and without having had to go to into action.”
Then in the last paragraph of the last page the following is written: - “HMS CONCORD’s deployment into the River Yangtze on the Morning of July1949 does not bear comparison with the operations on 20 and 21st April 1949, nor with the circumstances of HMS AMETHYST’s enforced incarceration in the river from 20 April 1949 until her escape during the night of 30/31 July 1949. It is assessed that it is for this reason that the relevant authorities at the time did not include HMS Concord in the list of ships and units that are eligible for the ‘Yangtze 1949’ clasp to the Naval General Service Medal (1915).”
Now take into account the following which the Naval Secretary (Honours and Awards) SO1 wrote into item numbered 11 under the heading of HMS CONCORD: - “Examination of T300/71 shows that the HD Committee were not invited to consider whether HMS CONCORD should be included as one of the units whose personnel would be eligible for the medal. This is central to the veteran’s claim that HMS CONCORD’s part in HMS AMETHYST’s escape on the night of 30/31 July 1949 was deliberately covered up and that this alleged cover up led to HMS CONCORD being omitted from the list of units that were specified as qualifying for the medal.”
Further, check out the denoted items, that relate to (Risk and Rigger) and while doing so, bear in mind that it was upon 28th July 1949 that HMS CONCORD, was deployed into the indiscriminately mined lower reaches of Chinas, Yangtze River, in readiness to go to the “AMETHYST’s” assistance.