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Escape of the Amethyst

By: C E Lucas Phillips (750/36005)
Publishers: Heinemann From the John Laffin Library

On a quiet April day in 1949 HMS Amethyst was proceeding on a peaceful mission up the River Yangtse when she was set upon by a Chinese Communist batter and brought perilously near to destruction before she could fire a gun in her defence.

This assault was the beginning of an international embroilment. After gallant attempts at rescue, the little ship, with a very young crew at half-strength, was held captive under intolerable conditions of physical hardship and nervous strain, and constantly threatened with destruction.

When all diplomatic efforts had failed, Amethyst herself solved the issue in one of the most sensational exploits, which, in the words of the Commander-in-Chief, was "an epic of naval history", and which won applause from the whole of the non-Communist world.

It is a great an unique story, and no one could record it more skilfully than C. E. Lucas Phillips, whose book on the Royal Marines' war-time raid on Bordeaux harbour, Cockleshell Heroes, has become a bestseller.

Brigadier Lucas Phillips has had the full co-operation of Commander J. S. Kerans, DSO RN, who commanded the Amethyst, together with that of the Commander-in-Chief and of others who took part. All Admiralty records have been at his disposal, including much material hitherto classified as Secret and never before made public. The resulting book is therefore factually full and accurate, and is infused with the very spirit of daring and adventure which inspired the operation itself.

November 2008

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