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Thread: Austin Byrne

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    Default Austin Byrne

    I have just been informed my old friend Austin Byrne’s “Crossed the Bar” over the weekend. During WWII he served in the Royal Navy as a DEMS gunner on-board Merchant ships. His first trip to sea was on the dreaded Russian Convoys and his ship the British S.S. Induna was sunk in Convoy PQ-13. Surviving this ordeal Austin returned to the sea and even volunteered to go back on the Russian Convoys later in the war. He also served in the North Atlantic convoys, the Italian Campaign and during the D-Day Landings on-board a Merchant ship. Although Royal Navy he was very proud to have served alongside his civilian Merchant Navy counterparts.

    The last of a generation. Fair winds and calm seas my friend.

    Austin Byrne 1922-2022

    Cargo ship Induna, 5,086grt, (Maclay & McIntyre) loaded with war materials and cased petrol at New York for the Russian port of Murmansk left Sydney, Cape Breton in the 35 ship Convoy SC-63 on the 3rd January 1942. Ten days out at sea after being hampered by a severe storm, which forced ten ships to return to port, the Induna left the convoy and set course for Iceland where the ship would join up with the 21 ship Convoy PQ-13, sailing from Reykjavik on the 20th March. Three days later as the temperature dropped the convoy encountered a full arctic gale and during the evening of the 25th March, the Induna became detached from the convoy and as daylight approached, the ship was sailing all alone. Later on during the day, the ship encountered several more ships from the scattered remnants of PQ-13. By the 28th March, the weather subsided and apart from the occasional snow squall, the weather remained fairly clear. By the evening, the Induna had entered an ice field and took the escort vessel HMS Silja in tow who was running short of fuel as well as taking onboard sixteen survivors picked up from the Merchant ship Ballot by the escort ship. By the 29th, the weather once again blew up and the towline to the escort vessel parted and the Induna lost touch with the ship and had no choice to battle onto Murmansk. On the morning of the 30th March in rough seas North-East of the Kola Inlet a torpedo from U-376 detonated in number five hold containing the cased petrol, which blew up setting the ship ablaze. The order to abandon ship was given and the lifeboats were launched as the ship settled by the stern. U-376 then fired a second torpedo which detonated in number four hold and the ship started to sink stern first and with the bow rising high into the air the ship plummeted to the depths in position 70’ 55N 37’ 18N. The two lifeboats became separated and for four days, the survivors battled the seas in temperatures as low as –10 degrees, a number dying along the way and their bodies being committed to the deep. Finally, a Russian minesweeper found both lifeboats and the men finally arrived at Murmansk on the 3rd April where a number of men died from severe frostbite. Other survivors had to have limbs amputated without anaesthetic.

    Last edited by Doc Vernon; 7th December 2022 at 08:47 PM.
    "Across the seas where the great waves grow, there are no fields for the poppies to grow, but its a place where Seamen sleep, died for their country, for you and for peace" (Billy McGee 2011)

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    Default Re: Austin Byrne

    Sad news Billy,
    When I first heard his story which I first saw posted by you on the old Mercantile Marine Forum, I think.
    He wrote, in praise of merchant seamen, the following which I have used as my signature on forums ever since.

    "If Blood was the price
    We had to pay for our freedom
    Then the Merchant Ship Sailors
    Paid it in full”.

    My condolences to his family and friends.

    Fair winds and calm seas now Austin. RIP.


    Regards
    Hugh
    "If Blood was the price
    We had to pay for our freedom
    Then the Merchant Ship Sailors
    Paid it in full”


    www.sscityofcairo.co.uk

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    Default Re: Austin Byrne

    Sorry to hear the sad News Billy
    Always a sad time to loose anyone, especially Friends and Family.

    May he now Rest in Peace, and have calm Winds to fill his Sails , and take him to places he so loved in Happier Years.
    Condolences to all Concerned.
    With Respect
    Senior Site Moderator-Member and Friend of this Website

    R697530

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    Default Re: Austin Byrne

    Sad news. What an amazing man, may he rest in peace.

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    Default Re: Austin Byrne

    HI Billy.
    So sorry to hear about your mate, may he now rest in peace
    Des

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    Lest We forget.
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    Lest We Forget

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