Forest Hills

Early morning November 10,1944, was no different than any other fall morning in the outport community of West Point (on the southwest coast of Newfoundland). Most of the fishermen were out fishing with the exception of Pliny Stone, his two sons, John Robert and George William, and La Poile resident Bill Organ. They decided to stay in from fishing on this particular day. They were preparing their 44-foot skiff "Forest Hills" (owned by Pliny Stone) for a trip to Burgeo to return the Magistrate (who was at West Point on regular business) to his hometown.

The weather that day was favorable, so once the preparation was completed, the crew departed for the 35-mile voyage to Burgeo. All went well in the beginning and in five hours the crew had reach their destination. At Burgeo the magistrate disembarked and the crew departed Burgeo for their return trip home.

Not long after they left Burgeo, the weather began to deteriorate. The wind began to increase from the southwest and waves were beginning to build due to the long fetch from the wind. Mr. Stone decided they would go as far as Grand Bruit and spend the night to await better weather conditions. The Forest Hills arrived in Grand Bruit early in the evening. Later that night the crew settled down for the night.

Early morning of November11 (Saturday), the crew awakened to lighter winds. Although the wind had subsided overnight, the sea was still a little "choppy". After breakfast the M.V Forest Hills departed Grand Bruit and with just nine miles to go to reach West Point, they knew they would be home in little over an hour.

At 10:00 hrs the Forest Hills was passing Western Island, a well known landmark on the west side of La Poile Bay (approximately one mile from West Point). The crew had passed this island countless times before and knew in a short while they would be home.

Crewmembers John Robert and Bill Organ were standing on the deck alongside the dory and next to the rigging from the mast. A moment later the skiff was hit by a wave, listing her to the starboard side. As a result of the list, John Robert was thrown against the rigging and then into the freezing water.

Pliny Stone and Bill Organ witness the incident and immediately launched a dory. Shortly after the dory was launched, John Robert was recovered. As soon as his body was taken aboard the dory they knew that he had already drowned. The force of being thrown against the rigging had probably knocked him unconscious rendering him unable to struggle for his life in the freezing water. The remaining distraught crewmembers continued home to report the tragedy. The sea had claimed another victim.

When the residents of West Point, standing next to Strickland's General Store, saw the M.V Forest Hills in the vicinity of Pot Rock (at the entrance to West Point) with the peak of the foresail lowered, they knew immediately that something was wrong. The lowering of the peak was either used on the fishing grounds to tell the fishermen in dories to return to the skiff immediately or, in this case, an indication of tragedy.

The residents proceeded to the wharf fearing the worst. The trouble was very obvious. There on the fore hatch of the skiff was the body of John Robert Stone.

Once the M.V Forest Hills was secured, the body of John Robert was taken to his home. There his body was prepared for funeral services. Several days later he was laid to rest at the cemetery in Stone's Harbour (near West Point). At the time of his death he was 35 years old and married with a three-year-old daughter.