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The saddest sight I ever saw

In a shed on the Port aux Basques wharf, 34 recovered bodies were washed and dressed. Those of the S.S. Caribou crewmembers lay in order of rank, starting with Captain Ben Taverner. Second Engineer Thomas Moyst’s body was between those of Third Officer Harold Taverner and Fireman Arthur Thomas.

Typed list of the identities of 34 bodies recovered from the sinking of S.S. Caribou

Identification of 34 bodies recovered from the S.S. “Caribou” sinking

Present to identify the victims, Herb Moyst confirmed what everyone knew: his father was one of them.  That day, instead of celebrating his father’s birthday and retirement, he said, “I saw doctors giving sedatives to women crying for their lost husbands or sons.” Port aux Basques and Channel had 21 new widows and 51 new orphans.

gravestone of Thomas Moyst

Gravestone of Second Engineer Thomas Moyst

Mary Keeping of Channel tried unsuccessfully to identify Gertie Strickland’s child Abigail and her baby Vera among the bodies of the children found.  The next day, Abigail’s uncle, Bert Strickland, recognised the body of little Abigail and took it back with him to Rose Blanche.  A month later, baby Vera’s previously unidentified body was returned to her father William. She was buried in Rose Blanche, the birthplace of her parents.

Twenty-six bodies recovered were not initially identified. They were transported by train to St. John’s in coffins built by the people of Channel and Port aux Basques.

chart of number of survivors and dead from S.S. Caribou sinking

Death toll from the loss of S.S. “Caribou”

One of the survivors of the sinking, the cook of S.S. Caribou, Harold Janes, had not yet recovered from his injuries when he returned to his home in Port aux Basques. He watched the mile-long funeral procession pass his window.

He said, “It was the saddest sight I ever saw.”

Funeral procession of men, women and children

Funeral procession for six crewmen from S.S. “Caribou”