October 29, 1920 - October 14, 1942
George Frederick Emmerson Coulson, known as Fred, was the son of Charles Emmerson Coulson, coal dealer, and Lena Maye (nee Jackson) Coulson of 225 Pickering Street, Toronto. He had one brother, Curtis Edwin enlisted in the army by 1943 and two sisters, Mrs. Lorraine Smith and Mrs. Shirley Gillard. The family was Baptist.
He had a Grade X education with one year of industrial school.
Fred was a truck driver delivering ice and coal from 1936-1941 for his father’s business.
Fred married Gladys Kathleen Sambrook, 17, on May 16, 1942, in Toronto. She resided at 113 Hannaford Street, then 130 and 128 Lawlor Avenue, all in the Beaches area of Toronto.
Fred’s mother was the beneficiary of two $1,000 life insurance policies.
Fred enjoyed skiing. He was living in Galt, Ontario when he enlisted with the RCAF on April 25 1942. He was a trainee at Galt Aircraft School. He stood 5’3” tall and weighed 110 pounds. He had brown eyes and brown hair, with a fair complexion. He had his appendix removed in 1941 and some cysts removed from his left ear.
Fred was sent to No. 1 Manning Depot, Toronto until June 12, 1942, then was to be sent to TTS St. Thomas, Ontario. He was then posted to RCAF Station, Botwood, Newfoundland. October 8, 1942. He was an airframe mechanic.
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 (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 only 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.
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.
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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, 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. They had both trained with Fred, and posted to Botwood, Newfoundland.
Raymond Chatson was also a classmate, who was also to be posted to Botwood.