This page is an entry in Shonas Wreck Guide.
Sketch of the wreck of the 'Pomeranian'.
Built: 1882 by Earles Ship Building and Engineering Co. Hull
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
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.
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!