Statement of John Dominie

My name is John Dominie.  I am 35 years of age and reside at Channel.  I was A.B. on the S.S. Caribou.  I had joined her in July 1942.  I have spent my life as Captain on a fishing skiff fishing off Newfoundland coasts and Labrador.

On Tuesday, September 13th, the Caribou left North Sydney around 9:45 O’clock p.m. I was off duty asleep at the time.

I went on duty at Midnight.  I took first two hours on the look-out and then relieved James Spencer at the wheel.  I remained at the wheel from 2 o’clock and was at the wheel when the Torpedo struck.  Just before the torpedo struck, about five minutes, we had struck the 3:45 a.m. bell.  In the wheel house at the time the torpedo struck were the second mate, Prosper, and James Spencer, A.B.  We rushed from the wheel house together.  I never saw one of them afterwards except Spencer (and this was after when we were picked up by the Mine-sweeper).  I went to the boat deck on the Port Side.  There I found a crowd of people.  I called for an axe which a man held in his hand and I took it from him and chopped the lashings from the boat (#4).  I went to the boat myself and cut away the after fall.  The boat went into the water.  The boat filled with people, as far as I could see they were all men except one women and child.  The boat filled with water when leaving the ship and in a few minutes capsized.  I was in the boat.  We were all thrown in to the water.  The boat capsized four times, each time losing some of its occupants.  At last we got the boat in a right position, but the seas were sweeping over her and she was still full of water.  I remember at day break counting the number of people in the boat.  There were nine, all men.  Later four of these died from exhaustion before we were picked up.  There were only five of us left in the boat when we were picked up.

The last time I saw the Caribou I was hanging to the life boat in the water.  At the time the Caribou was completely submerged with the exception of the emergency house (aft part of boat deck).  While I was in the water the screeching coming from the ship and around was loud and heart rending.

Just at dawn I saw the minesweeper in the distance.  She was about a mile or a little more away at the time.  She picked us up around 8 o’clock.

For my own part I could not say that the Caribou was escorted by minesweeper that night or not.  The first time I saw the sweeper was at day break.

The weather at midnight was fine and the water fairly smooth.  The wind gradually increased to quite a breeze from the west when the torpedo struck.  I believe we were the last survivors the minesweeper picked up, except one life boat, sea-worthy, and carrying survivors.

At 2 o’clock when I took the wheel the course that was given to me was North 40 East.  We immediately changed our course to East by North.  This course was maintained up to the time the torpedo struck.

The Captain was on the bridge practically all the time from midnight to 2:00 a.m.  The second mate remarked to me around 2:15 a.m. “I wonder what the old man is up for to-night.”  This remark was also passed to me by one of my watch-mates Israel Bennott.  I did not see the Captain any more after 2 o’clock.  My brother, Ernest, had the wheel from 10 to 12, and James Spencer, A.B., from 12 to 2.  According to my reckoning based on the course my brother tells me he steered, and the course Spencer would ordinarily steer, the Caribou was west by south about 20 miles from Channel Head when the torpedo struck.  I at no time saw the submarine or any sign of it.


                                                                                    (sgd) John Dominie

N. Forward, Sergt.,
Port Aux Basques
October 29th, 1942.

Source: "Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador."

Back to Top

Back to Documents