Shonas Wrecks - Pomeranian

This page is an entry in Shonas Wreck Guide.

Sketch of the 'Pomeranian' as she is today
Sketch of the wreck of the 'Pomeranian'.

Built: 1882 by Earles Ship Building and Engineering Co. Hull
Tonnage: 4,364 gross, 2,832 net
Dimensions: 394 oa, 381 x 43.8 x 33.1
Engines: Single Screw, 2 cylinder compound inverted, 550 nhp, 12kts, built by builder
Hull: Iron. 2 decks plus awning deck
Passengers: 40 1st, 60 2nd, 1000 3rd class

1882 Built as 'Grecian Monarch' for the Monarch Line (The Royal Exchange Shipping Co.) Four masted profile
1887 Acquired by the Allan line Steam Ship Co. Ltd and renamed Pomeranian. Sep 8th, first sailing London-Montreal.
1889 Transferred to the Glasgow-Montreal route
1893 Feb: The vessel ran into a severe storm and huge waves carried away the bridge, charthouse and foredeck saloon, killing 12 people. The ship had to return to Glasgow where she was repaired and her masts reduced to two, the jigger being replaced by a pair of derrick posts. Retained her rather stumpy funnel.
1900 Used as a mule transport to the Boer war. Wooden stalls were erected from the foremast to funnel superstructure.
1902 Returned to Allan line. Triple expansion engines fitted by Denny Bros, Dumbarton. 316 nhp, 12 kts. The deck stalls were removed and she was given a taller funnel.
1908 Passenger accommodation reduced to 2nd and 3rd class only.
1916 Jan 10th. Taken over by Canadian Pacific Ocean Services - Montreal.
1918 Apr 15. Enroute London-Saint John, New Brunswick, torpedoed by UC-77 12 miles off Portland Bill. 55 lost.

Photo of vessel as 'Grecian Monarch'

Nine miles North-West of Portland Bill, The Canadian Pacific merchantman Pomeranian, zig-zagged across a smooth sea ironed flat by the strong wind. She was travelling close to her top speed of 12 knots and every zig and zag sent a gut-wrenching lurch throughout the ship. She was coming from London with a cargo of 177 tons of ground chalk, 129 tons of Fullers Earth and 340 tons of general goods, and was bound for St. John, New Brunswick. She had left London on April 13, and Mr. Redman, a Trinity House Pilot, was still aboard. As the light grew, Alexander Maxwell, the Master, who had been up all night, began to think about getting his head down. None of the lookouts saw the "feather" in the sea that meant that UC-77 was watching them through her periscope. Nor did they notice anything when Johannes Ries moved his boat into a position from which, despite the merchantmans erratic course, a torpedo had the maximum chance of success. Ries chose his firing point well. At 5:30am, still submerged, he fired a single shot from a bow tube and it exploded on the port side near the Pomeranian's bow.

The result, perhaps due to the speed of the "Pom", as her crew called her, was dramatic and disastrous. It is probable that the torpedo struck right into the crews quarters. Certainly, it opened up a great hole, the sea rushed in and she started to go down at once.

'as found' Porthole from Port stern plating
'as found' Porthole from Port stern plating

We know of what happened next from the tale of the sole survivor, William Bell, the Pom's second engineer. His orders in any emergency were to attend the engine room telegraph. This he did, but within a minute or two, the ship started listing so rapidly that he hurried up on deck. He grabbed a lifebelt and then, together with the purser, he stepped off the ship and clung to a plank. As the ship went down, he became separated from the plank and the purser, and suddenly found the fore-rigging coming down to meet him. The 36-year-old ship was schooner rigged and Bell found himself a perch on the topmost yard which was sticking out of the water while the sunken ship lay on the sea-bed 110 feet below,

Bell was rescued from the rigging an hour later by the patrol yacht Lorna and taken into Weymouth, but he was the only one saved. The Master and 54 men of the Pomeranian died that dawn - one of the largest death tolls of a torpedoed merchant ship.

Cleaned Porthole from Port Bow plating
Polished porthole from bow area - The hammer slipped :-o

Apart from the torpedo striking the crews quarters, the Admiralty noted that so many died because of the cold water and the absence of life-rafts aboard.

Today, the 'Pom' lies in 29-39m of water, and is in two main sections. The cabins stand some 7m off the seabed, and the rest of the vessel is flattened apart from the bow and stern which lie with a 45 degree list to s'brd. This vessel is still giving up portholes and other 'interesting' items. Rumour has it that it was carrying divers helmets as part of its Government cargo!