Maloja (1911)



The name Maloja was used by P & O Line for three ships:

  • A passenger/refrigerated cargo ship completed in 1911 and described on this page
  • A passenger liner completed in 1923 and broken up in 1954
  • A tanker completed in 1959 and broken up in 1976

Maloja was the ninth of 10 'M Class' P & O passenger ships to be built before the start of WW1. This vessel was built at Greenock by Caird & Co. and was named after Maloggia near St. Moritz in Switzerland.

Maloja served with P & O as a passenger liner and was not requisitioned by the Admiralty in WW1 like many of the other 'M Class' ships. She continued to provide passenger services until her life ended abruptly in 1916 when she struck a mine.

Maloja. Allan C. Green. Accession No. H91.108/1400 [20]

Basic Data

Item Value
Type Cargo/Passenger Ship (Ref)
Original Owners and Managers The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation
Country First Registered UK
Shipbuilder Harland & Wolff Ltd
Shipyard Belfast
Country where built UK
Yard Number 414
Official Number 132019
Call Sign HTGR
Classification Society Lloyd's Register
Gross Tonnage 12,431
Deadweight (DWT) 9370
Net Tonnage 6,782
Length 550.4 Ft
Overall Length N/K
Breadth or Beam 62.9 Ft
Depth 34.4 Ft
Draught 29 Ft 7 3/8"
Engine Type Quadruple-expansion Steam Engine
Engine Details N/K
Engine Builder Harland & Wolff Ltd
Engine Builder Works Belfast
Engine Builder Country UK
Boiler Details N/K
Propulsion Type Twin Screw
Power N/K
Maximum Speed 19
Cost of Vessel £328,202
Crew N/K
Passengers 458 first class, 218 second class
Cargo Capacity 224,576 Cu. Ft inc 102,826 insulated
Maloja just before launching [1]

Additional Construction Information

  • Fitted with electric lighting
  • Fitted with Marconi wireless equipment

The launch of the vessel on 17 December 1910 was reported in the 'Belfast News-Letter' two days later. The article mentions that the ship was fitted with 10 watertight bulkheads carried up to the spar deck and a double-bottom extending 'right fore and aft'. This is interesting in the light of the loss of Titanic a year later. More information about the public spaces is contained in the article.

Cutting from 'Belfast News-Letter' 19 December 1910 [30]

The First Class dining room was on the spar deck, stretched the width of the ship and was decorated in English Oak whilst the Smoking Room was decorated in Austrian Oak. [1]

The photo below shows a First Class cabin.

A 1st Class single-berth cabin [1]

The photos below show several of the public areas on Maloja.

The 1st Class Dining Saloon [1]
The 2nd Class Dining Saloon [1]
The 1st Class Reading and Writing Room [1]
The 2nd Class Library [1]
The 1st Class Smoking Room [1]

Career Highlights

Date Event
17 Dec 1910 Launched
15 Aug 1911 Completed
23 Sep 1911 Maiden voyage to Lisbon, Santa Cruz de Teneriffe, Funchal and Gibraltar
27 Feb 1917 Sunk after striking a mine off Dover
Maloja. Allan C. Green. Accession No. H91.325/1263 [20]

Service Pre-WW1

Maloja left Tilbury for her maiden voyage on 23 September 1911. This was a cruise from Tilbury to Lisbon, Santa Cruz de Teneriffe, Funchal and Gibraltar and was advertised in many newspapers including the 'Salisbury and Winchester Journal'.

Cutting from the 'Salisbury and Winchester Journal' [48]

Probably of more interest to the public was the forthcoming trip to Bombay conveying people to the 'Durbar' being held at Delhi from 7 December to 16 December 1911. This departed on 7 November 1911 and was advertised in many newspapers including 'The Scotsman' on 1 November 1911. The Evening Mail included some of the passengers in its 3 November edition.

Cutting from 'The Scotsman' [49]
Cutting from 'The Evening Mail' [50]

Medina, the final 'M Class' vessel, was also commissioned for temporary use as a Royal Yacht to carry the Royal Family to the same event. Unfortunately for P&O the cost of accommodation charges in Delhi were hiked to the extent that many people cancelled their passage on Maloja making the trip a commercial failure.

Maloja arrived at Bombay on 28 November 1911 and made the return trip to Tilbury on 29 December calling at Aden, Port Said, Marseilles, Gibraltar and Plymouth en route and arriving on 20 January 1912.

On 9 February 2012 Maloja left for her first trip to Australia and continued to service that route for the next two years making her last peacetime trip from Tilbury on 24 June 1914. She returned to the UK in late October 1914.

Service during WW1

Maloja made a number of trips to Australia at the beginning of the war but was lost in 1916.


Maloja left Tilbury on her last voyage on 26 February 1916. She was carrying 121 passengers, including 40 women and 18 children, plus 355 crew members. She was due to pick up mail and additional passengers at Marseilles.

On 27 February 1916 she was between Dover and Folkestone, and about two miles south-west of Dover pier, when she struck a mine that had been laid by German submarine UC 6 commanded by Matthias Graf von Schmettow. There was a large explosion alongside the aft tourist saloon which severely damaged the ship and killed a number of passengers including children.

Note: During the course of the war submarine UC 6 was responsible for the loss of 54 merchant ships and 1 warship plus damge to 8 further merchant ships and 1 warship. The submarine was itself sunk in a mined net off the North Foreland on 28 September 1917 with the loss of all hands.

Casualties on Maloja would have been higher but the ship's boats had been prepared for lowering and passengers advised to have lifejackets handy. An attempt was made to stop the engines but the engine room was quickly flooded and the engines kept running for some time which made the launching of boats very difficult. She sank after 20 minutes with the loss of 122 lives.

Nearby ships came to the rescue, including the collier Empress of Fort William which struck another mine and was also sunk. Various small ships came out from Dover and picked up the survivors.

On 4 March 1916 'The Illustrated London News' included an image of the scene just after Maloja sank. It is not entirely clear whether this image is an engraving or a relatively poor quality photograph - I think on balance the latter.

Cutting from The Illustrated London News [54]

The 'Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette' carried the following account on 28 February 1916.

Cutting from 'The Sunderland Daily Echo' [51]

An 'Evening Mail' report on 1 March 1916 included some very disturbing accounts of events from small children and a list of some of the survivors. You have to wonder what long-term effects that horrific experience had on the children.

Cutting from the 'Evening Mail' [50]

The loss of Maloja enabled more than one opportunistic company to cash in on people's fears and, within a few days of the loss of the vessel, the following advertisement appeared in the 'Liverpool Daily Post' - and it was not alone.

Cutting from 'Liverpool Daily Post' 6 March 1916 [52]

Details of the merchant seamen who lost their lives can be found on the Benjidog Tower Hill website HERE

I have been unable to locate a list of the others that lost their lives but the report below from the 'Western Morning News' of 6 March reports some of the funerals of casualties - there are many other local newspaper reports about funerals held in many parts of the country.

Cutting from 'The Western Morning News' [53]

The wreck was considered a hazard to shipping in 1964 and blown up.

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