Sunday, January 20, 2019

Sinking of the Pilsudski

The Polish ocean liner Pilsudski was the pride of the Gdynia-America line, along with her sister ship Batory they would plough the Atlantic giving that bridge from Europe to the USA that was much needed for Poland. Launched in December 1934, her sleek black hull and two funnels were now a prominent scene in her home port of Gdynia and she was loved by her passengers and crew alike. At 531ft long and a beam of 71ft, she was a 14,294 ton giant. 

It was the outbreak of the Second World War that changed the life of this liner when Poland was invaded and everything that was Polish was immediately taken by Germany. The Pilsudski and Batory thankfully escaped from that life and were commandeered by the British government to be used for war service. 

With her Polish crew remaining, Pilsudski sailed from Newcastle on 26th November 1939 and began her first voyage to Australia for the transportation of troops. But this war service was not meant to be. 

Within hours of sailing she struck a mine in the North Sea and immediately began taking on water. Although some say that she was abandoned too soon by her 180 crew, she stayed afloat long enough for most of the people on board to be rescued. Ten people died (other sources dispute this and say two) including her captain Mamert Stankiewicz. The ship sank that day and still holds the record as the largest wreck off the Yorkshire coast. 
Today the wreck is visited by divers who bring back footage of her remarkable interior, her crest on the bow and the debris of a once great ocean liner. 

I am writing a book on forgotten disasters of the UK and I would very much like to do a chapter on this remarkable shipwreck and tell the full story of her demise. As part of my research I visited several museums in her home port of Gdynia in 2018 and found that she is very much remembered throughout these parts. 

I urge anybody with further information, photographs of who have visited her wreck to get in touch with me at 

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