A STARBOARD SIDE CAST BRASS NAME BOARD FOR THE FAMOUS ROYAL NAVY FRIGATE H.M.S. AMETHYST, PENNANT NUMBER F116, SURVIVOR OF THE YANGTZE INCIDENT, 1949
with green-painted ground and holes for bulkhead securing - 5 x 24in. (12.5 x 61cm.)
HMS Amethyst was laid down by Alexander Stephens & Sons on 25 March 1942, launched on 7 May 1943 and commissioned on 2 November 1943. Deployed mostly on anti-submarine patrols and escort duties, on 20 February 1945 she attacked and sank the U-boat U-1276 with depth charges (U-1276 had just sunk HMS Vervain). She is most famously associated however for her gripping encounter with the Chinese People's Liberation Army. On 20 April 1949, Amethyst was on her way from Shanghai to Nanjing (Nanking) on the Yangtze River to replace HMS Consort, which was standing as guard ship for the British Embassy there due to the Chinese Civil War between the Kuomintang (KMT) and the Chinese Communists. Coming under sustained small arm and shell fire, she grounded and managed to transmit the signal "Under heavy fire. Am aground in approx position 31.10' North 119.50' East. Large number of casualties" before her power failed. Everyone capable of swimming to the safe south bank was ordered over the side, the remainder (about 40 unwounded, 12 wounded and 15 dead) were relieved when HMS Consort was sighted, flying seven White Ensigns and three Union flags , steaming down from Nanking at 29 knots. Consort came under fire from the shore batteries and returned fire with 4.5 inch (114 mm) guns, destroying the enemy shore batteries before she made a failed attempt to take Amethyst in tow. Lieutenant Geoffrey Weston refloated Amethyst on 22 April and moved her out of range of the PLA's artillery. The British Naval Attaché Lieutenant-Commander John Simon Kerans joined the ship later that day and assumed command. The ship remained under PLA guard until 30 July 1949 when Amethyst slipped her chain and headed downriver in the dark, beginning a 104-mile dash for freedom running the gauntlet of Communist guns on both banks of the river. She followed the merchant ship Kiang Ling Liberation, which showed the way through the shoals and distracted the PLA. At 0500 hours of 31 July, Amethyst approached the PLA forts at Wusong (Woosung) and Par Shan with their searchlights sweeping the river. The Amethyst, at full speed ahead, broke through the boom at the mouth of the river, made contact with HMS Concord and transmitted the now famous signal: "Have rejoined the fleet off Woosung...God save the King." She was broken up in 1956.