Frank Austin

Date of birth: 1889
Place of birth: Southampton
Service No.: K / 16039
Rank: Petty Officer Stoker
Service: Royal Navy
Vessel: HMS Black Prince
Died: 31st May 1915 aged 27 years
Death location: At sea during the Battle of Jutland

 

Life before the War
Frank was the youngest of 6 siblings born to Samuel John and Sarah Ann, nee Baker.

He was also the husband of Alice Maud Stone; they married in Southampton in 1913 and lived at 4 North Front, St. Mary’s.  It is not known if Frank ever saw their son, Arthur F F, who was born in 1914.  Arthur only lived for 34 years before passing away in 1948.

Frank’s siblings – 1 sister and 4 brothers all born in Southampton – were:

Benjamin   b.1869 and d.1897 Southampton.

John Thomas    b.1874 and d.1938 Southampton.
Married Mary Ellen Rogers in Southampton in 1899.

Hannah Celia   b.1879 and d.1962 Christchurch.
Married Henry James Jutton in Southampton in 1899.

Arthur Henry   b.1881 and d.1934 Southampton.
Married Emma Horn Stride in Southampton in 1903.

Richard   b.1883 and d.1948 Christchurch.
Married Henry Jutton’s sister Jessie in Southampton in 1911.

 

War Service
The Black Prince was an armoured cruiser, completed on 17th March 1906 in Blackwall, London.  At the beginning of WW1 she was one of 4 armoured cruisers serving in the 1st Cruiser Squadron of the Mediterranean Fleet.

She saw action in the Red Sea and was back in the Med after gun modifications in March 1916.

There is some mystery surrounding the fate of Black Prince during the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916.  She was sighted at 17.33 by HMS Falmouth and there was a wireless signal reporting a submarine sighting at 20.45.  At approximately midnight HMS Spitfire saw what appeared to be a German battlecruiser completely on fire, the vessel exploding soon after sighting.  This vessel is now thought to have been the Black Prince.

The German version is perhaps more enlightening:  the Black Prince found herself separated from the Fleet but still attacked the battleship Rheinland.  In no time Black Prince was surrounded by up to 5 German vessels and was hit by at least 12 heavy shells and several smaller ones.  She sank within 15 minutes, and all 857 crew perished, Frank amongst them.

Frank is remembered on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

 

 

Researcher: Mark Heritage
Published: 5th June 2015
Updated: Insert dates here

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