AOPS Named for Mar­garet Brooke

RCN News - - Contents -

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.

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