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World War 2 Two II WW2 WWII

503810

Pte. Payne

British Army Royal Army Service Corps

Extract from newspaper report from an Interview with Private Payne from Luton, Chatham August 1940.

With the collapse of the French army Private Payne was involved in the evacuation of the 2nd BEF and he and other troops found themselves aboard the ill fated SS Lancastria.

‘The story of the Lancastria has now been told’ he said, ’but one thing that was not sufficiently emphasised was the courage of the troops on board.

‘It has been suggested that the enemy were not aware of the Lancastria’s identity after she had sunk I think I can confirm that’ ‘A Corporal Williamson and myself, both clerks with the R.A.S.C., were manning a Bren gun on the top deck. He was firing and I was feeding the gun. We brought down the plane that bombed the boat and it therefore did not return to its base to tell the tale.

In the explosion which followed the bombing my comrade was severely injured. I think I can say that I saved his life because although he was practically unconscious I managed to dress his wounds and get him safely on a boat. I placed him on the last lifeboat to leave the ship. I tried to get into a boat myself, but overbalanced and fell into the water. I had no life belt and I could not swim, but I found an oar in the water and was able to hold myself up. I was in the water more than 2 hours. We were machine gunned during part of it, but I came through okay and was finally picked up by a French trawler.

When I got aboard I found my comrade was there too. He was lying unconscious on the deck and although I was terribly wet and weary I made a pillow for him out of some wet clothing and stayed with him until we were transferred to a bigger ship. Here he was operated on and is, I believe, now in hospital in England.

I think his feat in shooting down the German plane is deserving of some recognition.

Private Payne added that his experience had somewhat affected his help and that he has now been graded B.1.

Corporal Williamson was my father John Derek Williamson, who died when he was 68 years old in 1988.










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