“Last Call” (1965) with HMS Bulwark and the Far East Fleet on Exercise Dark Night

Feature length documentary (61 minutes) demonstrating a Royal Navy and Royal Marines exercise in the Far East. Filmed during 1964/65 and based on Exercise ‘Dark Night.’

With 40 Commando, 42 Commando, and 845 NAS aboard the commando carrier HMS Bulwark (R08). The “Rusty B” was deployed East of Suez with the Royal Navy’s Far East Fleet throughout the 1960s and served during the Konfrontasi with Indonesia.

Also features strike carriers HMS Victorious (R38), HMS Eagle (R05), and the Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne (R21). Aircraft include the De Havilland Sea Vixen and the Blackburn Buccaneer.

Also the (new for 1964/5) County-class guided missile destroyers HMS Kent (D12) and HMS London (D16). Additional escorts include Battle-class destroyers HMS Barrosa (D68) and HMS Corruna (D97), C-class destroyer HMS Caesar (D07), Type 61 aircraft direction frigate HMS Lincoln (F99), Australian destroyer escort HMAS Derwent (DE49), New Zealand frigate HMNZS Otago (F111), and Type 15 frigate HMS Zest (F102).

Ships of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary include the replenishment oilers RFA Tidepool (A76), RFA Tidesurge (A98), and RFA Bayleaf (A79).

“On this day in history” Royal Navy battleship HMS London placed in commision

On this day in history 7 June 1902, the Royal Navy Formidable-class battleship HMS London was placed in commission.


HMS London at Malta, 1915.

Built at Portsmouth Dockyard, London was a battleship of the pre-dreadnought era, armed with four Armstrong Whitworth 12-inch naval guns, firing semi-armour-piercing shells weighing 850 lbs.


At the outbreak of war in 1914, London was assigned to the Channel Fleet, and later served in the Dardanelles campaign and with the Mediterranean Fleet.

In 1918, now obsolete as a battleship, London’s main armament was removed and she was converted to service as a minelayer. By 11 November 1918, London had laid 2,640 mines as part of the Northern Mine Barrage.


HMS London as minelayer, painted in dazzle camouflage, 1918.

Reduced to reserve status in 1919, London paid off in 1920 and was towed to the breaker’s yard in 1922.

Royal Navy battleships 1905

Royal Navy battleships in commission with full crews, 1st April, 1905.

There were thirty four battleships in commission. Of these, twenty were assigned to Home waters, eight were with the Mediterranean Fleet, five were on the China Station, and one was employed on trooping service.

Home waters:


Atlantic (at Gibraltar)





King Edward VII







Prince George



Royal Sovereign



HMS Albemarle, 1903.







Prince of Wales



HM Bulwark, IWM Q 21052B.








Barfleur was also temporarily in commission with full crew in trooping service.

HMS Barfleur, from “The Navy and Army Illustrated” 1897.

Source: United Kingdom. Hansard Parliamentary Debates, 5th ser., vol. 47, col. 635-7W.

MP calls for Yangtze clasp for HMS Concord veterans

The ships companies of HMS Amethyst, HMS London, HMS Consort and HMS Black Swan received the Yangtze clasp to the Naval General Service Medal (ref. Glasgow Herald, 2 Nov 1949). The ship’s company of HMS Concord did not. That this is due to “skulduggery” or a “cover up” seems somewhat fanciful and hyperbolic. Anyone with any experience of Whitehall would note that the “cock up” theory or history makes more sense in most cases than the “conspiracy” theory. That said, the oversight should be rectified. Arctic Convoy veterans waited 70-years to receive their recognition… Yangtze veterans have waited 64… and counting.

Yangtze Incident heroes ‘victims of skulduggery’

Richard Todd, centre, starred in The Yangtse Incident which dramatised the post-war operation.

Published on 10/07/2013 00:00

VETERANS of a naval crew denied war medals for their role in a one of the most daring operations in British military history were “victims of government skulduggery”, a Scottish MP claimed yesterday.

During a Westminster Hall debate, Labour MP Graeme Morrice raised the role of men who fought on board the HMS Concord and who took part in a rescue mission on the Yangtze River in the Chinese civil war.

Mr Morrice told MPs there had been a “cover-up” aimed at denying the involvement of the vessel in the incident in 1949, which campaigners have claimed was played down for diplomatic reasons.

HMS Concord was involved in the rescue of frigate HMS Amethyst, which came under fire on its way up the river, and relieved another vessel HMS Consort protecting the British embassy in Nanjing during the incident.

Mr Morrice, the MP for Livingston, said that HMS Concord’s veterans should be given “official recognition” of their bravery, which was immortalised in an acclaimed 1957 film – The Yangtse Incident starring Richard Todd.

The incident made headlines across the world in 1949 when HMS Amethyst came under fire. Heavily damaged and with many crewmen dead, it was initially grounded within range of Chinese guns.

Mr Morrice used the debate yesterday to pay tribute to the campaigning of HMS Consort Scottish veteran, William Leitch, who took up the case for the recognition of the part played by his comrades on sister vessel HMS Concord.

He said that Mr Leitch had provided an “overwhelming insight” into the episode by uncovering evidence relating to HMS Concord’s role in the incident.

Mr Leitch said he had uncovered pictures and letters in the archive of Rear Admiral Sir David Scott, which reveal how the crew of HMS Concord defied Chinese forces to sail up the Yangtse and help the refloated Amethyst.

Mr Morrice said: “Mr Leitch has been in touch about what happened and I know he’s delighted that we are able to have this adjournment debate.”

The Labour MP talked said that the Yangtze incident had “brought us to the brink of a Third World War” but claimed the truth about the role of HMS Concord had been “suppressed”.

Mr Morrice said that HMS Concord veterans had been “forgotten” despite providing a safe escort to HMS Amethyst, which was under Chinese attack.

He said: “It’s important in this debate that we provide some insight into the truth about the incident at the Yangtze River in 1949.

“As the Chinese civil war began, the Yangtze River was known as a war zone.”

He went on to call for HMS Concord veterans to now be given the Yangtze 1949 clasp, which those involved in the conflict received, as well the Navy General Service Medal they already hold.

Mr Morrice said: “There was a move to expunge any of Concord’s involvement. I hope that honourable members appreciate how frustrating this is. These veterans should be officially recognised, but they were victims of government skulduggery at the time.

“There has been a cover-up that may still be ongoing today.”

Mr Leitch said he was delighted that the issue was being raised in parliament.