Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Town Remembers Teesside Sailor Who Died in Channel

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Town Remembers Teesside Sailor Who Died in Channel

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Blackburn Senior Reporter

A THORNABY sailor who lost his life when his ship was torpedoed in the Channel is today being commemorated with a special centenary service.

Henry Souter, 27, was among 512 sailors and 35 officers who perished in the sinking of the HMS Formidable on Friday, January 1, 1915.

In the early hours of the stormy winter night, the German submarine U24 fired two torpedoes into the battleship which was patrolling the English Channel.

Just after 4.30am HMS Formidable sank beneath the waves around 30 miles south west of Lyme Regis on the Dorset coast.

Several boats including a sailing pinnace had been launched safely from the ship, overloaded with 71 men.

The boat was soon swamped with water and those who were able had to keep baling out sea water continuously with their boots. For 22 hours they fought to survive with 14 of their shipmates succumbing to the terrible conditions. These men were buried at sea from the ship's boat.

The boat came ashore in Lyme Regis at 11pm on New Year's Day. Of the 71 men in the pinnace, 48 were brought ashore alive, six were found to be dead on arrival, and three died after landing.

Three of the dead were repatriated to their home towns, but six of those who died were buried on January 6, 1915, in Lyme Regis Cemetery, with full military honours, including Henry Souter.

Henry was born in Thornaby in 1887, the son of Jane Souter, of Melville Rd, Stonebridge Park, London.

He joined the Royal Naval Reserve at Chatham in April 1912.

At his funeral he and the five other dead sailors were shown the greatest respect by the townspeople of Lyme Regis for their sacrifice.

That day flags were flown at halfmast from public and private buildings and shops were closed.

From early morning wreaths and floral tributes began to arrive at the Assembly Hall where the deceased sailors were lying in their coffins. It was there that the relatives were able to view their loved ones for the last time. …

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