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Nov. 8, 2013

We have a problem with some facts about the Yangtze Incident which a friend's research has thrown up. Perhaps you could help us with this?

My husband, Iain W.D. Forde, writes books in Scots which I publish as Fons Scotiae. His most recent is a novel (also translated into English) about the Swallows and Amazons in later life, and was inspired by a
meeting about four years ago in Culross, Fife, with a woman whose husband was lost on HMS Amethyst in 1949, in the Yangtze Incident. In one part of the novel there is a connection between some of Ransome's characters and the Chinese civil war, Amethyst etc.

According to the widow her husband died on Amethyst, and when we met her again in October this year she told us that in 2011 she received a medal for him, on the Ark Royal at Faslane, and offered to show it to us
with the citation/papers next time we were there.

Our friend's research indicates that Gunner Patrick Foley is on the list of HMS London's dead, as is our friend's childhood neighbour's son, Harry Sheldon, whom he believed died on HMS Amethyst. We do not know
whether there are errors of memory here, or whether all involved in the Amethyst/ Yangtze Incident are considered part of Amethyst.

There are various references to Mrs. Foley etc. in the prelims of the book and we do not want to tread on any toes, nor upset a widow who never remarried, brought up their child, and has retained a close connection
with the Navy ever since. We would be most grateful if you could shed some light on the above, and further, confirm, or otherwise, the recent suggestions that HMS Concord was closely involved and has been 'written out of history".

Mrs. Foley said her husband was buried in China, and that the Chinese had built a road right beside the graves so people cannot get near them. She also knew Kierans who became the Captain/Commander of HMS Amethyst, and how his name is spelled. She still attends Armistice Day in London under Navy auspices. It is hard to believe that she is mistaken over her husband's ship.

Amethyst was stuck there for months but it seems unlikely that someone from HMS London which was there for a short time would be buried in China?

Yours sincerely,
Susan Forde

Reply 1
Nov. 10, 2013

To confirm, both Foley and Shelton were lost in HMS London when she came up the river to assist Amethyst the following day.

Michael W. Pocock

Reply 2
Nov. 12, 2013

The story of the Shanghai Burials is a long story and it takes time to dig out the details. Briefly, There was a burial Service in the Hung Jao International Cemetery in Shanghai on 23rd (not absolutely sure of the date) April 1949. 12 of LONDON's casualties were buried , one from AMETHYST and 10 from CONSORT. During the Cultural Revolution we believe that all the Grave stones and markers in the International Cemetery were
destroyed. We have not found any evidence that any of the graves were dug up. From maps and local discussion it is clear that the Pan Yu Park lies in the same location as the International Cemetery. It is assumed that the bodies of the men buried in April 1949 lie unmarked in the Pan Yu Park

Of AMETHYST's dead, most were buried “at Sea” in the Yangtze, two were missing presumed drowned but their bodies were never found. One, The Captain, was buried at Sea from HMS CONSORT in late April and one
buried in Shanghai. Most of LONDON,s casualties were buried in Shanghai; one was buried at sea from HMS CONSORT and two, who died of wounds, were buried in Hong Kong All CONSORT‘s casualties were buried
in Shanghai. No one was killed in BLACK SWAN.

There are pictures of the Shanghai Burial Service and of the tombstones when they were erected later.

Stewart Hett

May 20, 2013

I am a funeral celebrant and on friday 24/5 I will be conducting the funeral of John Derrick who was in the Royal Navy from 1962 until 1971 serving on HMS Scarborough and HMS London. It is a long shot but perhaps there is someone out there who remembers him and has some stories of their service together. If anything is received and the family approve its use I will include it in the celebration of his life.

Stephen Benson

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