AOPS Named for Margaret Brooke
The Royal Canadian Navy announced a new offshore patrol ship will be named after Dr. Margaret Brooke, who tried to save her friend when the SS
Caribou ferry sank off the coast of Newfoundland during the Second World War.
The Caribou was torpedoed by a German submarine in the Cabot Strait on October 14, 1942 and sank in five minutes.
Brooke, originally from Saskatchewan but living in B.C., was a military nursing sister working in a new naval hospital at the time. She was en route to Port aux Basques, Newfoundland from North Sydney on the night the Caribou sank.
Brooke was celebrating her 100th birthday in Victoria when she learned the news. "I had no idea that anything like this was about to occur. It took me completely by surprise, and I'm greatly honoured," said Brooke. "I think it's the first time they ever named a warship after an individual, let alone a woman."
Brooke and fellow nurse Sister Agnes Wilkie were asleep in their cabin when the torpedo hit the ferry. According to Brooke, they woke up when they were "thrown clear across the room," and made their way up to the deck to discover their lifeboat was destroyed or gone altogether. When the ship sank, Brooke said they went down into the water with it. "We were just busy staying afloat until an overturned lifeboat came along, and the people on that helped us climb up
on [the side]…and we just hung there for the rest of the night."
Brooke said the two women held on as long as they could, but Wilkie couldn't hold on any longer -- and Brooke held fast to Wilkie in an attempt to save the nurse's life. "She collapsed and I held her as long as I could…I failed. I couldn't hold her any longer," said Brooke. Wilkie died when the Caribou sank that night.
The naming of the new Arctic offshore vessels aims to "honour prominent Canadians who served with the highest distinction" in the navy,
according to a statement from the department of National Defence.
Four other vessels will be named in the fu
HMS Blake, flagship of a British flotilla, arriving A Jetty Esquimalt 1978 for Exercise MARCOT. Photographer unknown.
Margaret Brooke was a nursing sister in the Royal
Canadian Navy when the Caribou sank.