What happened to the military men onboard?
“We didn’t have much time to fool around,” Royal Navy sailor Percy Moores said soon after the attack. Yet, he stopped to help Art Burry try to launch a life-raft, without success. Giving up, Art jumped overboard and boarded a different life-raft. Percy was sucked underwater when S.S. Caribou went down. After Percy surfaced, Art pulled him into his life-raft. The two men were among the 12 members of the Royal Navy who survived the sinking. The other 12, who were also heading home on leave, all drowned.
View an interview with Percy Moores with transcript
Six of 14 U.S. servicemen onboard survived. The highest-ranking officer onboard, Major James Abernathy, was buried at Stephenville’s new Harmon Field Air Base. Of the eight U.S. military victims, Abernathy’s was the only body recovered.
Arthur Barrett talks about the loss of his brother on S.S. “Caribou” (with transcript).
Eighteen of 43 Canadian airmen onboard died, some in starboard cabins. Aloysius Bourque was thankful he had bunked in steerage. After the war, Marie Buswell contacted survivor Lorne Cameron to know the circumstances of the death of her boyfriend, airman Lawrence Truesdale. Lawrence and two other Canadian airmen were given military funerals in Gander. Lorne and Marie would marry, have two children, and enjoy 63 years together.
Eighteen of 37 Canadian Army personnel onboard the ferry survived. However, William Glasgow, lifted unconscious from lifeboat No. 4, perished onboard H.M.C.S. Grandmere. Two months later, survivors Frank Burton and Fred Langley died in the Knights of Columbus Hostel fire in St. John’s. The one survivor of three servicemen from Montreal’s Jewish community, Moses Obront died soon after the war.
Surviving Canadian military personnel returned to duty. Ken Lightheart lived through another U-boat attack. Parachuting from his damaged Spitfire, Gerald Bastow was smuggled to England by the French resistance. Lloyd McCauley became a prisoner of war. Hedley Lake participated in the Sicily, Salerno and Normandy invasions in the Royal Navy.