One significant event in which Cockchafer, Scarab and Mantis were involved was the Wanhsien Incident in August and September 1926.
known as Wanzhou District, is a port on the Yangtze River about 1,500 miles
(2,400 km) upstream from
Two days later another China Navigation Co. ship, the SS Wanliu was boarded by Chinese soldiers. The captain ordered the ship to leave and rumours spread that the ship had intentionally rammed boats full of Chinese soldiers drowning them. In fact two of the boats had collided and one had capsized and it is unclear how many soldiers were lost. The Wanliu steamed upstream while the Chinese soldiers aboard attempted to capture the ship. They were unable to do so by the time the Wanliu reached Wanhsien where Cockchafer sent a boarding party to remove the soldiers.
about the escape of the Wanliu
reached General Yang whose troops captured SS Wanhsien again. The British officers were held aboard. Another
British merchant ship SS Wantung
was also captured. Chinese troops with artillery gathered on the shore.
General Yang seized several of Cockchafer's
Chinese crewmembers who were ashore and one was killed in full view of the
rest of the crew. Yang refused to negotiate with the commander of Cockchafer and the senior officer
On 1 September 1926 HMS Widgeon arrived at Wanhsien but negotiations did not go well and the Rear Admiral on the Yangtze decided that the matter would have to be settled by force. A British merchant ship, SS Kiawo, was camouflaged and armoured and manned by a naval crew gathered from Cockchafer, HMS Despatch (a light cruiser), HMS Scarab and HMS Mantis. Kiawo sailed on 4 September 1926.
In the evening of 5 September 1926 the Kiawo arrived in sight of Wanhsien. The plan was to board and re-take SS Wanhsien and SS Wantung. While HMS Widgeon and HMS Cockchafer would provide covering fire. Kiawo came under fire from the Chinese troops ashore. She came alongside Wanhsien and boarded under fire. The boarding party rescued the British seaman held onboard after fierce fighting.
In the meantime, Chinese troops onshore and aboard Wantung opened fire on Cockchafer and Widgeon which returned fire. The boarding party aboard SS Wanhsien suffered a number of casualties including the senior British officer from HMS Despatch and Cockchafer's sub-lieutenant who were killed. Having rescued the British merchant seamen onboard SS Wanhsien the attacking force retired to SS Kiawo. After an hour of fighting, the action was discontinued and the two merchant ships were abandoned. The British ships then retired having rescued the crews.
Naval Officers before the scrap
From HMS Scarab, Cockchafer, Mantis and SS Kiawo
Surviving Naval Officers
Surgeon Lieutenant Murray –HMS Mantis
Lieutenant Fogg-Elliot –HMS Mantis
Lieutenant Peterson –HMS Scarab
Gorge between Ichang and Wanhsien
Pom-Pom gun from HMS Cockchafer mounted on SS Kiawo 1926