April 12, 1914 - October 14, 1942
Edward Allan Thistle was the son of Alfred Thomas Thistle (1875-1952), farmer, and Annie Harriet (nee Shaw) Thistle (1878-?) of Stratford, Ontario, later of St. Mary’s, Ontario, 20 kilometres away. He had one brother, William Alfred (1907-1989) and one sister, Rose Alda. None were married and all lived with their parents on Queen Street in St. Mary’s. The family was Presbyterian.
Although he signed his name Edward A. Thistle, he was also known as Allan.
He was a clerk and electrical service man (electrician) from 1929-1942 for Victor G. Tovell, merchant of a music/electrical retail store. He also took the W. E. T. P. course. He had left school at age 14.
He liked softball and hockey. Allan wanted to be a musician after the war. He stood 5’10“ tall and weighed 171 pounds. He had blue eyes and brown hair with a fair complexion. He had several fillings and one crown noted on his medical form.
His assets included $225.87 in savings; in 2021, the equivalent would be $3,781.07.
Allan enlisted in Toronto and was sent to No. 1 Manning Depot, June 5, 1942 until July 17, 1942. Then he was sent to TTS, St. Thomas until October 8, 1942, to be posted to Torbay, Newfoundland. He was an Air Frame Mechanic.
Allan was en route to his posting at Torbay, Newfoundland, aboard the SS Caribou.
The night of October 14, 1942 was very dark with no moon. Sixty kilometres off the coast of Newfoundland, the SS Caribou on her starboard side was torpedoed by German U-boat U-106. On board were 73 civilians including eleven children, 118 military personnel, and a crew of 46. The passengers were thrown from their bunks, several lifeboats and rafts were destroyed or could not be launched, as the ship sunk quickly, reports stating three minutes. Many passengers were forced to jump overboard. Over 135 people perished. Fifteen of the crew survived, many of them local men from the Channel/Port aux Basque area.
Two of the survivors who had suffered from shock and exposure due to the sinking of the SS Caribou, Aircraftmen Frank Earl Burton, 19, and Frederick Anthon Langley, 23, both airframe mechanics posted to Botwood, Newfoundland, perished in the fire at the Knights of Columbus hostel in St. John’s, Newfoundland, December 12, 1942. Ninety-nine people were killed, with 80 of them military personnel. Critically wounded: 109.
Using a typewriter, his sister, Rose, filled out the required paperwork in June 1943. Mrs. Thistle was the sole beneficiary of Allan’s estate.
In January 1948, a memorial was erected at Port-aux-Basques, Newfoundland, in memory of those who died in the torpedoing of the S. S. Caribou.
Edward Allan Thistle is also commemorated on the cenotaph next to the Town Hall and Library, St. Mary’s, Ontario.
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