Prince Edward Island Highlanders lost on the S.S. Caribou

S.S. Caribou at St. John's Harbour - undated

Photos -

Above: S.S. Caribou at St. John's, NL - undated. This picture, reproduced following the Caribou Disaster, is captioned: "The S.S. Caribou at St. John's Harbour, with flags flying - built in 'Rotterdam' came to St. John's Oct. 23rd, 1925, 'sunk by enemy action' in the Gulf of St. Lawrence Oct. 14th., 1942." Photographer unknown but source reference "B.J.K. - 722-3157" appears in the lower right corner (Author's collection).

Middle: Two of the PEI Highlanders officers, along with an unidentified sailor, on board the minesweeper HMCS Grandmere after their rescue. (Author's collection - photographer unknown)

Bottom: Survivors of the S.S. Caribou and its escort, the HMCS Grandmere, attend a memorial service at Port-aux-Basques, Newfoundland, on 13 May 1986.
(Copyright © 1986 Dan MacDonald)

On the night of 13/14 October 1942, the Newfoundland Railway ferry, S.S. Caribou, was sunk off Port-aux-Basques by the German submarine, U-69. Among the passengers that night were 9 members of the Prince Edward Highland Highlanders. Six of them did not survive.

Two of the PEI Highlander officers, along with an unidentified sailor, on board the HMCS Grandmere after their rescue

My grandfather, an officer in the PEI Highlanders, was one of the lucky ones. He did survive, as did the two other Highlander officers travelling with him. Unfortunately, the six enlisted men in their command were among the 136 people who died that night.

Books, essays, and a myriad of magazine and newspaper articles have been written on the torpedoing of the Caribou, the rescue efforts that night, the reasons behind the tragedy, and the survivors. However, I have not found any one article that tells the stories of those who died. Their names would have made local headlines at the time, and they continue to be commemorated on local war memorials, the S.S. Caribou Memorial at Port-aux-Basques, and the monument to those lost at sea at Point Pleasant Park, Halifax. But, there is no single source of information to tell the tales of those who were lost.

Survivors of the S.S. Caribou and HMCS Grandmere at the Caribou Memorial Service, Port-aux-Basques, Newfoundland, on 13 May 1986. All three of the PEI Highlander officers were in attendance.

My hope and intent is to learn as much as possible about the 6 men of the Prince Edward Island Highlanders who died that fateful night. I would like to learn not only their vital statistics, but also biographical details and anecdotes about their lives, the memories of those who knew them, and perhaps obtain copies of photographs as well. I would like to create a small memorial to them, on-line at this site and/or possibly prepared for publication in something like the Island Magazine.

I would like to ensure that the memories of these brave Island soldiers continues to live on. I would like to ensure that their names remain more than just a footnote to the sinking of the Caribou, more than just a footnote to the war in which it occurred.

Listed below are the names of the six who died as well as a few details about each one. I would greatly appreciate the assistance of anyone who can provide more information on them.

I was pleased to be able to assist the Railway Coastal Museum, St. John's, NL, with their exhibition on the sinking of the S.S. Caribou titled Remember the Caribou. I contributed several photographs for their static display, which ran from October 14 to October 24, 2004. There is some discussion of making this an annual exhibit, timed to correspond with the anniversary of the Caribou's destruction.