Nova Scotia Canada
|Cemetery notes and/or description:|
"In the early morning of 14 October 1942, the Newfoundland Railway passenger/rail ferry S. S. 'Caribou' was sailing across the Cabot Strait, having left Sydney, Nova Scotia, on the evening of 13 October, heading for Port-aux-Basques, Newfoundland. Aboard were 192 passengers (armed forces personnel, as well as civilians), a crew of 46, some livestock, rail cars and other cargo. The island of Newfoundland, a sea-faring country which was still a British colony at that time, was in a strategic location during WWII because it was so close to Canada. There were several military bases on the island where Canadian, British and American personnel were stationed and they often travelled on the ferries between Newfoundland and Canada.
The Caribou's captain, Ben Taverner, was from Trinity, Newfoundland. Two of his sons, first officer Stanley Taverner and third officer Harold Taverner were also aboard the ferry. Among the crew members, all Newfoundlanders, were seven pairs of brothers.
Although the Caribou was escorted by HMCS 'Grandmere', a minesweeper, as a means of protection, nothing could prevent the torpedo attack by the German submarine, U-69, which was in the area at the time, having already sunk 17 other vessels. The torpedo that was fired without any warning from the U-boat hit the Caribou at about 3:40 a.m. Then it only took about seven minutes for the severely damaged ferry to sink, taking with it crew members, passengers and cargo.
Survivors scrambled to get into life boats or to grasp onto anything that would help keep them afloat in the frigid sea. The HMCS 'Grandmere', whose duty it was to pursue the submarine, did so but was unable to locate it, so returned to rescue any survivors, taking them back to Sydney, to the naval base hospital there.
Of the 46 crew members of the S.S. 'Caribou', 31 died, including Captain Taverner and his two sons. Of the 118 Canadian, British and American armed services personnel, 57 died. And of the 74 civilians aboard the Caribou that early morning, 49 perished. 136 people in all were lost."