Statement of Charles Ford

I am 27 years of age and reside at Mouse Island.  I am married.  I was a trimmer on board S.S. “Caribou”.  I had been on her for one month.  I have been a fisherman the greater part of my life, fishing out of Port aux Basques and Channel.  I was on duty when the “Caribou” left Sydney on the night of Oct. 13.  I went off duty at mid-night and turned in immediately.  My quarters were in the fo’castle.  I went to sleep and the next thing I remembered was something waking me which seemed to shake me all over.  I heard somebody shout and I jumped out of bunk.  It was dark in the fo’castle but I could hear the other men getting out also.  I grabbed my life-belt and ran for No. 6 lifeboat, back on the steerage deck.  When I came out of the fo’castle the first thing I saw was people on deck, screeching and asking what was the matter, and water rushing.  I was not able to reach No. 6 boat because there was too much water rushing over the deck.  I then went back towards the fo’castle to get my knife but met Freeman Skeard on deck and he told me not to go.  I then jumped overboard.  I swam away from the ship and reached a raft.  There was one man only on the raft.  I got on the raft.  I had just got on the raft when I saw the Caribou go down.  She was on fire in the stern as she went.

I was on the raft about five minutes when I saw something going through the water which looked like a submarine.  As I saw this going through the water, I saw a raft with people on it turn over, and the people on it thrown into the water.  I could also see a small red light on this object which I saw going through the water.  While I was watching this the man on the raft with me said. “Fall down, that’s Jerry.”  I lay flat on the raft and then heard something which I am unable to describe but it seemed like a squall of wind and the next thing I knew I heard something whiz past me striking my life belt.  When daylight came I noticed that the corner was cut off the life belt.

After sometime on the raft we paddled it around until we came to a life boat with a number of people on board.  We then got in this lifeboat.  When dawn came I saw the Mine Sweeper in the distance.  I would say she was three or four miles away.  I could see nothing of other rafts or life boats.  It was about 9:30 when the Sweeper picked up the life boat I was in.  Freeman Skeard, Fireman, of Channel, was in this life boat.


                                                                        (Sgd) Charles Ford


N. Forward, Sergt,
Nfld Rangers.
Port Aux Basques,
Oct. 29, 1942.

Source: "Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador."

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