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Commemoration of the sinking and the people lost

Every year since 1943, the memory of the missing from S.S. Caribou has been honoured at commemorative events in the Channel-Port aux Basques area.

Many children, like Bessie Blackmore, grew up attending these gatherings. On October 14, 1943, at the age of seven, she participated in the first commemorative ceremony with her Brownie troop. She was proud when they called her grandfather’s name: “Charles Ford, 4th Engineer.” Meanwhile, in West by South, a community about 20 miles from Channel Head, two ministers held a memorial service on an Allied ship. A wreath was dropped into the sea in honour of the crew of S.S. Caribou.

Listen to Bessie Blackmore talk about the impact of the sinking on her family and her community (with transcript)

On the 50th Anniversary, the newly formed Port aux Basques Radio Club spent the week broadcasting with the special event call sign: X05 SSC. On board Marine Atlantic’s M.V. Caribou, Captain Taverner’s youngest son, Arthur, unveiled a plaque.

On the 60th Anniversary of the sinking, 84-year-old former Royal Navy sailor Mack Piercy threw a wreath from M.V. Caribou. Blown into a recess below, the wreath rested four or five minutes before dropping into the Cabot Strait. Observers said it lingered the same amount of time that it took the ferry to sink.

View the 50th anniversary commemoration video (with transcript)

On the 70th anniversary of the sinking, in 2012, Charlie Andrews distributed the ashes of his father Eric, a seaman on S.S. Caribou. Although he had survived the attack, he wanted his ashes to join his Royal Navy comrades. At that same event Robert Cutler’s ashes joined his father, Howard, who died on 14 October 1942, performing his duties in S.S. Caribou’s mailroom.

gravestone of Benjamin Taverner with wreath

Gravestone of Captain Benjamin Taverner in Channel-Port aux Basques

Now the community gathers at the Caribou Memorial on November 11th. But on special anniversaries, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren meet, share stories, and remember the Caribou.

Two book covers

Two books that commemorate the sinking of S.S. “Caribou”