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Battle Hell (1957)

Yangtse Incident: The Story of H.M.S. Amethyst (original title)
In 1949, during the Chinese Civil War, British warship H.M.S. Amethyst sails up the Yangtse river but on the return trip finds its way blocked by a barrage fire from the Communist Chinese shore batteries.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lt. Cmdr. Kerans, RN
Leading Seaman Frank
Col. Peng
Lt Weston RN
Capt. Kuo Tai
Sophie Stewart ...
Miss Charlotte Dunlap
Robert Urquhart ...
Flt Lt Fearnley RAF
Lt Hett RN
Richard Leech ...
Lt Strain RN
Michael Brill ...
Lt Berger RN
PO McCarthy RN
Thomas Heathcote ...
Mr. Monaghan RN
Sam Kydd ...
AB Walker RN
Ewen Solon ...
ERA Williams RN
Brian Smith ...
Boy Martin


While sailing lawfully up the Yangste river in 1949, the British warship Amethyst found its return to the open sea blocked by Communist Chinese shore batteries that unexpectedly opened fire. In charge, Lieutenant Commander Kerans was not however prepared for his crew and his ship to remain as a hostage for the Chinese to use as an international pawn. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The true story of one of the most daring actions in modern Royal Navy history.


Drama | History | War


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Release Date:

14 June 1957 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

Battle Hell  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


As the Amethyst's main engines were no longer operational, HMS Magpie stood in for the shots of the ship moving. See more »


Twenty minutes into the film, Leading Seaman Frank is blown to the deck, losing his cap. Actor William Hartnell replaces it, only for it to slip - and be replaced - again. It falls off completely as he crawls down the frigate - yet is on the sailor's head moments later after a shot change. See more »

Crazy Credits

[The film closes with King George VI's words following the incident]: "Please convey to the Commanding Officer and ship's company of H.M.S. Amethyst my hearty congratulations on their daring exploit to rejoin the fleet. The courage, skill and determination shown by all on board have my highest commendation. Splice the mainbrace". George R. See more »

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User Reviews

6 March 2004 | by (Seattle, Washington) – See all my reviews

The British frigate Amethyst is on a lawful run up the Yangtze River to provide supplies to the British embassy at Nanking. Communist Chinese forces are

victorious in the region and are marching on the city. As the ship travels upriver, Communist artillery batteries unexpectedly open fire. The frigate desperately fights back, but runs ashore after sustaining casualties and damage. The

situation settles into a diplomatic affair with the local Communist commander demanding all sorts of unreasonable concessions in order to allow the stricken vessel to leave.

For me, this dramatization of the real life incident involving HMS Amethyst on the Yangtze River counts as among the best in the genre. Action sequences

are realistic, especially for the time period. Especially remarkable is that the actual ship was used for part of the filming. The performances range from good to excellent. Highly recommended.

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