Empire Caribou

22nd November 2005, 08:29
Can anyone provide a photograph of the "Empire Caribou" Built in 1919 by Downey Shipbuilding Corp, Arlington NY as the “Waterbury” 383-3x52-2x27-4; 339n.h.p.; 10 knots; triple-expansion engines., for US Shipping Board, New York, 1921 Renamed “Northern Star” for American Star Line Inc New York 1921 sold to American Sugar Transit Corp, New York Renamed “Defacto”, On March 18th 1940 given to MOWT managed by Sir William Reardon Smith & Sons renamed “Empire Caribou”, torpedoed 10th May 1941


11th March 2006, 13:17
Empire Caribou ex Waterbury 1919 ex Northern Star 1921 ren Defalto 1941ren Empire Caribou 1940 sunk by u boat u556 north atlantic bound Britain to Boston 59:28n 35:44w 10-5-41 loss of crew 29 sorry no photo. (Applause)

Glenys Evans
22nd July 2008, 14:12
My Dad was on board the Empire Caribou when she was sunk. He was one of 11 survivors picked up by HMS Malcolm on the 13 May 1941. My dad has only now started to talk about his experience and if any one can help me find either surviving crew members or details of HMS Malcolm I would be extremely grateful.

K urgess
22nd July 2008, 14:20
Welcome aboard, Glenys.
I'm sure the crew will help if they can.
There's a picture of a HMS Malcolm in the gallery but it may be a later one -


K urgess
22nd July 2008, 14:24
That is definitely a later one.
There's plenty on the internet of you Google HMS Malcolm including a Wikipedia entry

Alun Withey
1st September 2008, 12:58
My grandfather, Cecil Bertram Hill, died on the Empire Caribou, but we have very little information about him, or indeed about the actual sinking of the vessel. This site is fantastic and has already told me much more than I knew before about the boat and her final hours, but I would love to know if anyone knows any more about the crew, or perhaps even knows of any memoirs of the survivors. Also, are there any details of what happened in the attack? It's an EXTREMELY long shot, but I also would love to know if there is anyway of finding out any more about my grandfather, or what he actually did on the Empire Caribou.

Any help would be very gratefully received.
Alun Withey

K urgess
1st September 2008, 15:57
Welcome aboard Alun.
I'm sure someone in the crew will be able to help by pointing you towards the correct reference at Kew.
Meanwhile carry on looking around the ship and enjoy the voyage.

Hugh MacLean
1st September 2008, 17:44
Hello and welcome, Alun.

Your grandfather was the EMPIRE CARIBOU's Second Officer when she was torpedoed.

There is a medal file for CB HILL born 5 October 1913 available for download at Kew for £3.50 and the link is here: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documentsonline/details-result.asp?Edoc_Id=4521404&queryType=1&resultcount=4

The last Crew Agreement for EMPIRE CARIBOU is held at Kew under her official number 167431 filed in piece BT 381/1690 at this link here: EMPIRE CARIBOU (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/displaycataloguedetails.asp?CATID=8197657&CATLN=6&Highlight=%2C167431&accessmethod=0)

Details of the sinking here: http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/916.html
CWGC entry for CB HILL here: http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_details.aspx?casualty=2789593

If you need anymore info just make a post.


1st September 2008, 18:10
Completed in November 1919 as Waterbury for US Shipping Board (USSB). 1921 renamed Northern Star for American Star Line Inc, New York. 1923 renamed Defacto for American Sugar Transit Corp, New York. On 18 Mar, 1940 given to Britain and renamed Empire Caribou by Ministry of War Transport (MoWT). lost at 07.52 hours on 10 May 1941, the Empire Caribou (Master Bernard Edwin Duffield), dispersed from convoy OB-318, was torpedoed and sunk by U-556 about 465 miles southwest of Reykjanes. The master, 31 crew members and two gunners were lost. Nine crew members and two gunners were picked up by HMS Malcolm (D 19) (Cdr C.D. Howard-Johnston, DSC, RN), landed at Reykjavik and brought to Greenock by HMS Scimitar (H 21) (Lt R.D. Franks, OBE, RN). o.v. London-Loch Eve, Boston, Massachusetts

Alun Withey
1st September 2008, 18:24
That's very kind, thank you very much indeed to you both. I had no idea there was a medal file, and so i'll look into that straight away, and the information about the attack itself is very interesting too. I wonder why Captain Duffield moved away from the convoy.

It's actually very sad too because my mother was only 7 months old when her father was killed, and her own mother either knew little, or didn't tell her much about it before she herself passed away. I'm hoping to be able to find out as much as I can about Cecil for her.
Thank you very much again for your help and advice.

Roger Griffiths
2nd September 2008, 19:16
Hello Alun,
There is a survivors report available from Kew which may answer some of your questions.
Its on page 42. Just hit the REQUEST THIS button and use the digital express option. Should cost you, £8.50.


Alun Withey
3rd September 2008, 09:36
Dear Roger,
Thank you so much for that - it's really kind of you to look up that information for me, and I very much appreciate it. I've ordered the documents this morning, so we'll see what turns up.

10th September 2008, 14:20
Hi Ray,

There is a good chance that there is a photo of the ship in the Steamship Historical Society of Americas photo archive. www.sshsa.org

Best of luck in your research.

Alun Withey
10th September 2008, 16:21
Out of interest, does anybody know roughly what sort of duties a second officer on a merchant vessel might have? Would he have been generally a bridge officer?

Alun Withey
11th September 2008, 12:01
Just on the matter of pictures of the Empire Caribou, I did have a look under all of the previous names on the SSHSA website, as Takajian kindly suggested, but couldn't turn up anything. She seems to be something of an elusive vessel in terms of photographs.

11th September 2008, 17:16
Out of interest, does anybody know roughly what sort of duties a second officer on a merchant vessel might have? Would he have been generally a bridge officer?

The Second Mate's duties, at least in my experience on a UK flag liner company, were primarily navigation - maintenance of the charts, chronometers, other navaids.

He would have been on bridge watches from 1200-1600 and from 0000-0400.

There were differences between the companies and countries of course.

26th February 2010, 12:28
Since my original post in November 2005, I was contacted recently by the Daughter of the Captain of the ship when it was under the name of “Defacto” registered New York, who has now sent me a photograph whilst under that name of “Defacto”

My relative Milton Hanson was 1st mate when she was lost, being one of the casualties, I do have a ships manifest dated February 1941 for the “Empire Caribou” The Master was Harold David arriving New York 27th February 1941 sailed from Newcastle 28th January 1941, the 2nd Mate was Cecil Bertram Hill who was 27 years old and had been at sea 11 years they all signed on in South Shields in the January 1941

9th March 2010, 08:42
Just a note to say that I'm currently researching this ship for a Wikipedia article. I can't use this thread as such as forums and blogs are deemed to be non-reliable sources. That said, there is some useful info here to search for reliable sources with.

9th March 2010, 15:40
The article is now live at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Empire_Caribou

jeff beaton
2nd January 2011, 16:31
Empire Caribou
My late father Gerald Beaton, known at the time as George, was one of the surviving RN gunners following the ship's sinking. He survived, with others, by clinging to an upturned lifeboat. A fellow survivor, Jock, helped save my father's life when he started drinking sea water. Dad subsequently tried to locate Jock without success. Regards Jeff Beaton