Prince Edward Island Highlanders lost on the S.S. Caribou
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.
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.
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.
- Thomas Aubrey Currie (Corporal, F/30508) - Son of Murdoch and Florence Currie of Londonderry Station, Nova Scotia. Husband of Marjorie Currie of New Glasgow, Nova Scotia.
- Preston Diamond (Private, F/60209) - Husband of Lucette Diamond of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.
- Everett Samuel Francis (Corporal, F/60515) - Son of Mary Francis of Albany, Prince Edward Island. Husband of Janie Louise Francis of Grand Falls, Newfoundland.
- James Charles Byron McDonald (Lance Sergeant, F/60555) - Son of Rose May McDonald of Summerside, Prince Edward Island. Husband of Ethel L. (Gillen) McDonald of Moncton, New Brunswick.
- Laurence Michael Shepherd (Corporal, F/59899) - Son of Henry Bertram and Mary Shepherd of Cardigan, Prince Edward Island.
- Arthur Adrian Sullivan (Sergeant, F/59756) - Son of Annie Sullivan of Summerside, Prince Edward Island.
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.