Sister’s search for answers after seaman brother dies in car crash

Great Yarmouth (Caister) Cemetery, where Rupert Cook is buried. Photo: George Ryan

Great Yarmouth (Caister) Cemetery, where Rupert Cook is buried. Photo: George Ryan - Credit: George Ryan

A family is searching for answers to the mystery surrounding the death of a 23-year-old seaman in a car crash.

The EDP on Friday, October 15, 1965, reporting the crash.

The EDP on Friday, October 15, 1965, reporting the crash. - Credit: Archant

Rupert Cook died when the vehicle he was a passenger in collided with a wall in Southgates Road, Great Yarmouth, on October 14, 1965.

Now, 50 years later, his sister is trying to find out more about the events surrounding Rupert's death.

Topaz Dempster, 63, was only three years old when her brother died, and what happened on the night of his death had been a total enigma until she uncovered newspaper reports from the time.

The grandmother who lives in County Antrim, Northern Ireland said her family were living abroad at the time in Cyprus, as her father worked in the Ministry of Defence, so no-one from her family was able to attend the funeral.


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'The only information I heard as a child was that Rupert, who was in the Merchant Navy, was hitching a lift back to his ship which I believe was docked at Great Yarmouth.

'The weather was really bad with heavy rain and the car skidded and hit a wall.

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'When we were living in Cyprus I heard my parents talking about Rupert's death. My mum did not really talk about him very much.

'He left to join the Merchant Navy when he was a teenager and he never returned – my memories of him are very slight, but I always thought about him.

'I think it's terribly sad that my brother has been lying in a grave for 51 years and no family member has gone to visit him there or lay flowers.

'I do not understand why my mother never bought the burial plot.'

It was only last week she discovered Rupert was buried in an unmarked pauper's grave in Caister cemetery she said it was devastating news.

'Rupert was not a pauper, the was in the Merchant Navy.'

Rupert has two full sisters and a half-brother and sister.

She has been told it would cost £750 to purchase the plot and added: 'We cannot afford that, my husband and I are pensioners.'

She said she had been looking for answers for many years to find out about the brother, who was a sailor in the Merchant Navy aboard the MV Caroline M, a London-registered harbour oilers tanker.

The driver of the Ford Consul which crashed into the wall, James Luke Garfitt Carr, 32, of Lowestoft, was so badly injured that he remained in hospital for five months.

'I would like to trace the driver of the car who would be 84-years-old now. I would like to know from him if he knew Rupert, why were they together that night, were they friends or shipmates? If they were friends then I want to know what sort of guy my brother was.'

She added: 'Maybe other people remember the accident that night.'

In June, Mrs Dempster and husband Wesley will make a special visit to Caister w to visit the cemetery and site of where her brother is buried. She has been given the plot number as there is no headstone,

She hopes to lay some flowers at the plot.

Do you know anything about the events of October 14, 1965? Did you know Rupert Cook, or James Carr? Email george.ryan@archant.co.uk, or call 01493 847954.+

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