Mis­taken iden­tity leads to deadly at­tack

The fol­low­ing re­port on the Cari­bou sink­ing ap­peared in the Satur­day, Oct. 24, 1942 edi­tion of The Grand Falls Ad­ver­tiser. SUR­VIVOR RE­LATES STORY OF WHAT TOOK PLACE AF­TER ILL-FATED SHIP SANK IN CABOT STRAIT

Advertiser (Grand Falls) - - Features -

Lorenzo Gosse, a res­i­dent of Grand Falls who was a pas­sen­ger on the ill­fated Rail­way ship Cari­bou at the time of its tor­pe­do­ing in the Cabot Strait by a Ger­man sub­ma­rine on last Wed­nes­day morn­ing, tells his story of the last hours of the Cari­bou and its tragic fate in the waters of the North At­lantic.

IAs told to P. J. Ryan was vis­it­ing my aunt in Syd­ney and was among the peo­ple who filed up the gang­way and en­tered the Cari­bou on the eve of its fi­nal jour­ney across the Cabot Strait in another of its well-known runs to this coun­try.

As we lined up and com­pleted the nec­es­sary reg­is­ter­ing on the ship, I am sure no one imag­ined that a ter­ri­ble chap­ter was to be writ­ten about the fa­mous Cari­bou be­fore the dawn of another day.

It was about 10 or per­haps 11 o’clock on Wed­nes­day night when the reg­is­tra­tion of all pas­sen­gers was com­pleted and the Cari­bou nosed its way out into the chilly waters of the North At­lantic from a Nova Sco­tia port, on what was to be the last voy­age of its long and il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer.

The night was not very cold with prac­ti­cally no wind, and a beau­ti­ful starry sky looked down on this lit­tle ship as she ploughed her way from a Cana­dian port. Ac­cord­ing to wartime reg­u­la­tions, the ship was com­pletely blacked out with the ex­cep­tion of a few emer­gency lights.

There was quite a num­ber of pas­sen­gers on at the time; in fact, I heard about 236 peo­ple all told. I was trav­el­ling first class and, soon af­ter sail­ing, I en­tered the sa­loon with a num­ber of other peo­ple and was told I would have to wait un­til a berth was found for me as the women and chil­dren were be­ing taken care of first.

There was men from var­i­ous branches of the armed forces aboard and, like my­self, they were wait­ing for berths.

In one cor­ner of the sa­loon, an air­man was sit­ting at the pi­ano. He was soon joined by another air­man and to­gether they played some kind of a duet – the air of which was fa­mil­iar to me, al­though I just can’t re­mem­ber the right name of the piece. Af­ter a while other men of the forces joined in and started to sing – other peo­ple just lay around on the lounges.

As the night wore along into morn­ing, the mu­si­cians tired and strolled away to their berths. The song and jolly tune set­tled into a si­lence that was bro­ken only by the in­ces­sant throb­bing of the ship’s en­gines.

About five or six peo­ple were doz­ing in the sa­loon, and ow­ing to not be­ing in­formed of a berth at my dis­posal I set­tled away on one of the lounges in the sa­loon… I nod­ded, dozed, and awoke, then dozed off again for a lit­tle while. And it was in this man­ner of rest that I passed the night away un­til the mer­ci­less arm of the Nazi bes­tial­ity crept out of the dark­ness and plunged our ship into doom.

I saw the time at 3:30 a.m. and did not sleep af­ter that. I felt rather drowsy. At about three min­utes to four, the ship ex­pe­ri­enced a sud­den dull, stag­ger­ing move­ment fol­lowed by an ex­plo­sion.

I ran out on the deck and I heard a sailor shout, “She’s hit!”

The Cari­bou stopped dead. I saw two sea­men run up to the lifeboat deck, and I un­con­sciously fol­lowed them. When I came up to where they were try­ing to get the lifeboats away, I re­mem­bered I had no busi­ness up there as I was only a pas­sen­ger; so, I

I saw two women with small ba­bies in their arms stag­ger up to the side of the doomed ship and shout to us to save them. A man near me sat silent as if he were par­a­lyzed. I reached out from the side of the lifeboat and grabbed both women into my arms, and then fell back into the lifeboat. and suc­ceeded in reach­ing it and seiz­ing hold of it with a de­ter­mined grip.

All around me I saw heads bob­bing up out of the waves and seemed to reach about six feet into the air. Some were shout­ing, oth­ers had their cries for help sti­fled with wa­ter when they were caught in the grip of boat.

The night was very dark and as I looked back at the old Cari­bou I saw a small, lurid flame leap from her sink­ing form and stab vi­ciously into the inky dark­ness. Soon the gal­lant lit­tle ship slipped from sight to the bot­tom of the North At­lantic. I heard some moans in the dark­ness, oc­ca­sion­ally, when the wind would sub­side, and then I was told that we had a sick sol­dier in our boat.

With dawn we found some bis­cuits and a tin of malted milk tablets in our boat. These were dis­trib­uted. At that hour we were about twenty hours from Chan­nel Head. We had four sets of oars and there were no women in our boat. Dawn and Cheer

A bleak dawn broke over our New­found­land coast and the most poignant marine tragedy of our At­lantic Sea – sur­vivors, most of whom I no­ticed were merchant sea­men.

The sur­face was lit­tered with drift­ing de­bris and pieces of wreck­age. Ev­ery­thing was strangely silent, apart from the me­thod­i­cal splash­ing of our oars in the wa­ter and the oc­ca­sional whine of wind. I counted 20 peo­ple in our boat.

We judged the time to be about 8 o’clock, and we were toss­ing around on the sur­face when we no­ticed the smoke of a ship on the hori­zon and then a plane fly­ing high in the dis­tance – the boat proved later to be a minesweeper.

Then we saw four planes, one of which came over us and the pi­lot opened a door and waved to us. We felt he was telling us help was com­ing. Then the plane dropped emer­gency flares that burst into flames when they hit the wa­ter, and from which a thick col­umn of smoke crept sky­wards. The planes went away, and re­turned again. We then had an old can­vas bag tied to the end of an oar and raised into the air.

Al­most an hour later we saw the minesweeper and we rowed to­ward it. The sweeper stopped as we ap­proached and we were taken aboard. I was fa­tigued and dazed as some­one pushed me through a door on the minesweeper and a gush of warm air en­veloped me.

We were given a hot drink, cof­fee and sand­wiches. On the minesweeper we saw a sailor with his arm bro­ken, also we saw other sur­vivors. I heard that two soldiers had died of ex­po­sure and that another sailor had plunged into the sea and res­cued three other peo­ple.

We were on the minesweeper about six hours and all was pleas­ant and cheer­ful in com­par­i­son to the try­ing night we had spent. Saw No U-Boat

One minesweeper threw 13 depth charges, we were told, af­ter it had reached the scene where the Cari­bou went down. I saw no Ger­man sub­ma­rine, al­though I did meet a male sur­vivor in a Cana­dian Port who told me that he saw the Nazi UBoat come up and upset some of the lifeboats, throw­ing peo­ple into the wa­ter – and that also the U-Boat had sprayed the swim­mers with ma­chine gun fire and then dis­ap­peared.

Ar­riv­ing at an Eastern Cana­dian Port we reg­is­tered, and I saw some dead bod­ies be­ing taken ashore. They were wrapped in grey blan­kets on stretch­ers.

In port I met W. J. Lun­dri­gan of Cor­ner Brook; he later came home by plane. I un­der­stand he was sick and was treated by doc­tors for a touch of pneu­mo­nia which was the re­sult of be­ing chilled in the wa­ter.

I was placed in a taxi and taken to a ho­tel. The pro­pri­etor told me food was com­ing. Five hours later the food was still com­ing, but I got none. I was wet, chilled and very tired. I asked a girl to phone my aunt. She did and my aunt came and got me some food at a nearby store. I was spent out and ex­hausted. I fell asleep as soon as I hit the bed, and awoke the next morn­ing about 8:30.

I saw no one in the ho­tel, and waited a while but still saw no sign of any­one around, so I went out and met a gen­tle­man who took me in his car to where my aunt lived, and he never charged me a cent.

I had lost ev­ery­thing I pos­sessed on the Cari­bou and be­fore start­ing home I had to be fit­ted out by my aunt. I left Canada on Satur­day night on another ship and on reach­ing a port in this coun­try I was treated well and given meal tick­ets and a sleeper to my home des­ti­na­tion.

SS Cari­bou: Ton­nage: 2,200 short tons (2,000 t) Length: 265 ft (81 m) Speed: 14.5 knots (26.9 km/h; 16.7 mph)

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