Daily Event for February 27

At 10:30 in the morning on Feb. 27, 1916 Maloja, the largest ship in the P&O inventory hit a mine just two
miles off Dover, England. The 550' long, 12,431 ton liner had had been built by Harland & Wolff in 1911 and
could carry 670 passengers, on this voyage she was carrying only 122 passengers, but a crew of 301 were also
on board.

She had just passed the Admiralty Pier at Dover when she struck the mine laid by UC-6 days before, the
explosion caused the captain, Commander C. D. Irving RNR put the engines full astern in an attempt to ground
the ship, but the damage was too great. As other ships and small craft approached to help rescue those on board
and with thousands watching the drama from shore the Maloja rolled over and sank twenty minuets after
striking the mine.

A second ship, the tanker Empress of Fort William, who had come to assist the Maloja was on the bottom along
with her a few minuets later after she too hit a mine, another victim of UC-6 in this case all persons on board
were rescued. Sources differ on the number of lives lost on the Maloja but it is between 122 and 155, sadly this
includes a number of children.

The wreck remained where it sank until it was blown up as a navigational hazard in 1964. P&O had Harland &
Wolff build another Maloja in 1924 (shown below), she served as an AMC and a troopship in the Second World War and survived her experience, she was later scrapped.

© 2008 Michael W. Pocock

Maloja, date and location unknown,


MaritimeQuest has received the following messages.

Oct. 5, 2008

Very interesting reading your website. My grandfather was on the SS Maloja when it was sunk in 1916 by a
mine, although he always maintained that the boat was torpedoed. His Mother had sent him off to sea with two
gold coins in his pocket. They survived his time in the water, as did his pocket watch and the family still have
the watch and coins today as well as the postcard he sent his wife to be (my Grandma) the morning of his
departure. Nice to know nothing seems to be forgotten.

Jeff Clare
Auckland, New Zealand

Sept. 30, 2010

I was interested in the entry about the Maloja being mined off Dover in 1916 - the pic, however, is of course, of the second Maloja. I was a passenger aboard her from Tilbury to Australia in 1947. I was a young NZer and had done my first voyage in the British Merchant Navy when I joined a ship in Napier (NZ) and paid off in London. In those days first trippers had to be repatriated to the port where they signed on - hence my voyage home in Maloja. I later sailed in the British Merchant Navy for about twelve years. If readers are interested in those days, I wrote a book about them - Wet Behind the Ears, published by Harper Collins 2001.

Peter Taylor

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