The fate of S.S. “Caribou”’s crew
Two-thirds of the 45-man crew was lost. The first casualty, Howard Cutler, a veteran of the Battle of Beaumont Hamel, died sorting mail. Captain Ben Taverner went down standing on his ship’s navigating bridge. The next day Grand Bay fishermen found his body, and the bruised bodies of his sons: First and Third Officers Stanley and Harold. Second Officer James Prosper’s body was never recovered.
Chief Engineer James Pike was last seen on deck in his shirtsleeves. Second Engineer Thomas Moyst was last seen exhausted and clinging to a lifeboat. Unable to free a raft, Fireman Freeman Skeard and Trimmer Charles Ford (the nephew) swam separately to lifeboat No. 2. At daybreak, they were the only surviving members of the engine room crew of 15.
All twelve stewards survived the torpedo, but five died before being rescued. Harry Hann, for example, was lost trying to launch a stern lifeboat. Bridget Fitzpatrick gave up her seat in lifeboat No. 4 and later perished when the ship sank. William Currie and Alex Bateman survived, as did William Pearcey and his son Billy.
Listen to Captain Ben Taverner’s grandson Paul Taverner describe the sinking and the impact on Port aux Basques (with transcript)
Only four of the eight deck crew survived. Among them were Able Seamen Ernest and John Dominie, the only brothers working together on S.S. Caribou to survive. Stewards William and Billy Pearcey were the only father and son team to return safely home.