Passing of SS Caribou Heroine Margaret Brooke
“On behalf of the entire Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Armed Forces, my deepest condolences are extended to the family and friends of Lieutenant-Commander (ret’d) Margaret Brooke, who passed away peacefully on January 9, 2016, at the age of 100, surrounded by loved ones in Victoria, British Columbia.
“LCdr Brooke was a true Canadian naval hero. A Royal Canadian Navy Nursing Sister during the Second World War, then-Sub-Lieutenant Brooke was named a Member (Military Division) of the Order of the British Empire for her valiant actions following the torpedoing and subsequent sinking of the ferry SS Caribou on October 14, 1942, in the Cabot Strait off Newfoundland. Fighting for her own survival, she attempted to save the life of her colleague and friend, Nursing Sister Sub-Lieutenant Agnes Wilkie, by holding on to her with one arm, while clinging to ropes on a capsized lifeboat. Despite LCdr Brooke’s heroic efforts, her friend succumbed to the frigid water. LCdr Brooke continued to serve in the RCN until her retirement in 1962, at which point she went on to a successful civilian career in academia, achieving her PhD in paleontology.
“The Royal Canadian Navy was extremely pleased to acknowledge Margaret Brooke’s great legacy with the announcement in April 2015 that one of the upcoming Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships would be named Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Margaret Brooke in her honour. Members of the RCN had the great fortune to visit LCdr Brooke and her family at the time of the announcement, which was also on the occasion of her 100th birthday. It was a wonderful opportunity to thank LCdr Brooke for her 20 years of military service to Canada, and for her heroism so many years ago.”