Newfoundland Constabulary

STATION: Central

DATE: October 27,1942

SUBJECT        IDENTIFICATION OF SEVEN UNKNOWN BODIES AS RESULT OF SINKING OF S.S. CARIBOU IN CABOT STRAIT IN THE EARLY MORNING OF OCTOBER 14TH, 1942

Sir:

            I respectfully report that, as instructed by you, at 2:00 p.m. on October 19th, 1942, I proceeded to the Railway Station and received from the incoming express seven unidentified bodies which had been landed at Port aux Basques and presumed to be those passengers on the ill-fated S.S. Caribou which was sunk by enemy action in Cabot Strait in the early morning of Wednesday, October 14th, 1942.

            The bodies were coffined and clad only in burial clothes.  No clothing or personal belongings of any description were received by me; these, I understand from Chief Ranger Fraser, were held over by the Rangers at Port aux Basques.

            The coffins as received by me, and which were conveyed to the Police morgue, were marked as follows:

                                    Number 1         Male
                                    Number 4         Female
                                    Number 6         Child (Male)
                                    Number 7         Female
                                    Number 9         Female
                                    Number 11       Female
                                    One Navy Man. 

            The coffins were opened and were arranged in the morgue where they were viewed by, I should say, at least two thousand citizens and foreigners in the hope of recognizing some friend or relative who had been unaccounted for.  By Thursday, October 22nd, the identification of all bodies had been completed. They were identified as follows:

            Number 1 was identified as William H. Girth who appears in the manifest of the ill-fated Caribou as being 52 years of age, employed by Western Electric Company and whose address given as 20099 Federal Street, Cambden, New Jersey, U.S.A.  Identification was made by Mr. Charles A. Fredericks of 270 West 29th Street, New York City, Foreman, Telephone Installation Communication, at present stationed in Whitbourne, Newfoundland.  An affidavit of identification was made by Mr. Fredericks, copy of which is attached, also fingerprints taken at the morgue (fingerprints are of deceased, Mr. Girth).  This body was taken care of by Undertaker Carnell and forwarded to its home.

            The unidentified Navy man was identified at the morgue by Walter Bishop and John Bishop of Cavendish, Trinity Bay, as that of their brother, A.B. Eli Max Bishop, No.JX315667, of the Royal Navy.  He was 19 years of age and was coming home on leave.  He was the son of Gertrude and William Bishop of Cavendish, Trinity Bay.  Identification of this body was also made by Rev. J. Morgan of Heartís Delight.  This body was taken in charge by the Naval authorities and forwarded to his home at Cavendish.

            Number 11 (female) was identified by Rev. Gordon W. Allen, Pastor of the Pentecostal Church, at present on holiday at Bell Island,  as  that of his wife, Oda Allen, aged 25 years, daughter of Cora and the late David Wilson of Tancook Island, Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia, Canada.  She was on her way to Bell Island accompanied by her two children, Coral Ann, aged 3 Ĺ years, and Constance, aged 16 months.  Both of these children were lost and their bodies have not been recovered. 

            Numbers 4, 6 and 9 were partially identified as those of Mrs. Kathleen Skinner, Basil Skinner, and Nancy Skinner from photograph appearing in the Halifax Chronicle of October 17th.  As a result of this partial identification, the Chief of Police, Halifax, was contacted and photographs of Mrs. Skinner and her two children, Basil, age 4 and Nancy age 2, were received by Air Mail from which a positive identification was made, after which the bodies were taken in charge by Undertaker Oke and forwarded to Halifax for burial.  Mrs. Skinner was 35 years of age and was coming on a visit to Harbour Breton with her husband, Richard Skinner, and the two above named children.  All four were lost and the body of Richard Skinner has not yet been recovered.

            The body of Number 7, a female child of 8 months, was identified, through a process of elimination of ages through the manifest and from a photograph of her mother which appeared in the Syndey Post of October 17th, as Shirley Bernard, 8-months-old child of Arthur and Mrs. Harriett Bernard.  She was on the way to Rose Blanche with her mother who was also drowned and whose body has not been recovered. The body was taken in charge by Undertaker Oke and forwarded to North Sydney, being met by the father at Port aux Basques where a complete identification was made.

            In connection with the identification of Mrs. Skinner and her two children, it was requested in the communication of J.J. Conrad, Chief of Police, Halifax, that these photographs be returned.  I am enclosing them, together with this communication, in order that this may be done.   

            I might state here, Sir, that all bodies, as soon as received at the morgue, were photographed and fingerprinted by Acting Sergeant Harold J. March.  With your consent, the picture of three of the bodies appeared in the Evening Telegram of October 21st, this being a new departure in Police circles here.

 

District Inspector
P.J. OíNeill, Esq., O.B.E., J.P.,
   Chief of Police


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