Statement of Freeman Skeard

My name is Freeman Skeard. I am 27 years of age, married and live at Channel.  I was fireman on the S.S. Caribou.  I joined the Caribou in December 1941.  I have been a fisherman and a sailor for the greater part of my life.

The Caribou left Sydney on the night of October 13 around 10 o’clock.  I was off duty and in bed at the time.  I was called at 3:30 a.m. to go on duty at 4. After I was called I got up, had a lunch and put on my stoking clothes.  I had taken my gloves from a box under my bunk and put them in my pocket, looked at my watch which showed exactly ten minutes to four, and had just put my foot outside the fo’castle door when the torpedo struck.  The shock threw me back into the fo’castle and I grabbed for my life-preserver, which was in my bunk.  The other firemen who were off watch got out of bed at the same time.  Putting on my life-preserver I went on deck and the first thing I noticed was the raft in the starboard rigging.  I took my knife and cut the raft’s lashings.  The raft then went overboard.  I then went up the ladder on the front of the bridge and went back aft as far as the smoke stack.  I could see nothing back here except steam and smoke.  I retraced my steps back to No. 2 hatch and when I reached there water was coming in over the hatch.  I secured my life-preserver, jumped over the side and swam away.  I was in the water for about a half an hour when I was picked up by a life-boat.  I saw the Caribou sink.  She went down head first about five or six feet after I jumped over-board, or about ten minutes from the time the torpedo struck.

It was about 10 o’clock in the morning when I was picked up by the mine Sweeper.  I think there were twenty-three survivors in this life-boat which had picked me up.

I saw no sign of any submarine.

                                                                                    Sgd. Freeman Skeard.


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

Source: "Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador."

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