Roy Souter, serving in Lord Austin when her stern was blown off.
September 1, 2009
I did a search for Lord Austin on your site and found your interesting piece.
My father Roy Souter, who is still alive, and had just turned 20 at the time was on Austin when her stern was blown off. They went down in between 6 and 9 minutes if I can remember what I was told. They were doing protection work for Pluto at the time but at that point steaming full speed across the Bay of Siene.
He was waking up the next watch when they were hit, I think about 550 am local time. I think nine were lost.
My father tells the story of a man with a broken arm and leg jumping over him and getting up the ladder in front of him. Also, Bill Curtis, the Coxwain and my father who had both been fishermen were trying to cut off a carly float, they were desperately searching for a knife when an officer shouted out not to abandon ship as she was not going down. Bill said to ignore him as did not know what he was talking about. I do suspect that the language was more colourful and I think "F" and "Idiot" were mentioned!
After sometime in the water they were picked up and at one point they were on a large American landing craft before finding a torturous route back to the UK. I also noted in your adjoining article stating that the Northern Gem was similar to the Lord Austin. While it is true that they were both Armed Trawlers with the same or almost identical amament the similarity ends there.
My father was also aboard the Northern Spray, sister ship to the Gem. If you look at the bow you will she that it curves in a similar manner to the equivalent German vessels. The reason for that is they were actually German and built as part of WW1 reparations. There is a photo of the Austin on the U Boat Net but it is after reconfiguration to fishing but actually there is a boat which may be the Austin in wartime guise on the same site. Hope this is some help.
NB I noted a full account of the sinking but have misplaced it. I will try to find it. You can either post this or send it direct to the Gentleman from the States Mr Bushnell.
Some more about Lord Austin.