Reply To: Loss of the SS Maloja 27 February 1916

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Malcolm Lewis

    More ships lost or captured in the North Sea
    In June 1916 following the loss of the Maloja and the mailboat Stockport the Daily Telegraph’s correspondent in Rotterdam reported that the Great Eastern Railway’s steamer Brussels had been captured, after leaving Rotterdam, by German destroyers and taken into Zeebrugge. Her passengers were Belgium women and children refugees fleeing the war torn battlefields of the Western Front. Her British crew of forty four officers and men were also taken into captivity. Her cargo, bound for Britain, consisted of 390 tons of margarine, fish, butter and yeast destined for a hungry nation. It was a regular run for the Brussels and she had previously frequently escaped attack from enemy destroyers and submarines based at Zeebrugge. Even well into the war the Admiralty was still not providing escort for these important merchant vessels preferring to deploy patrols in the empty sea-lanes in the forlorn hope of catching submarines.
    The Telegraph correspondent also reported that “very small submarines (U-boats)” were being built at the Hoboken Yards in Antwerp. They were specially designed to be able to pass along the narrow Belgian canals via Ghent and Bruges to their destination in Zeebrugge.