Please Note: The  house flag and word mark 'P&O' are Trade Marks of the DP World Company


1923 saw the keel laying of the 'R-Class' passenger ships, the last P&O ships of the post-war rebuilding programme.

the ss Ranpura, Ranchi, Rawalpindi and Rajputana. By January 1926 all four ships were in service.

The ss Rajputana



The 16,568 ton Rajputana, was built by Harland & Wolff, Greenock, and completed on December 30th 1925






Mahatma Ghandi on board Rajputana in 1931




HMS Rajputana

She was requisitioned into the Royal Navy on the onset of war and outfitted at Yarrows, in Esquimalt, and commissioned as HMS Rajputana in December 1939.



As an Armed Merchant Cruiser, she was armed with 8 × 6 inch guns and 2 × 3 inch guns, and Anti-Aircraft  machine guns.

After trials Rajputana was assigned to convoy duties, escorting merchant ship convoys from Bermuda, Halifax and Nova Scotia to the UK.

April 1941 found Rajputana escorting the UK bound Convoy HX-117. On handing over the convoy to its mid ocean escort, Rajputana was ordered to patrol the Denmark Strait.

On 11th April at 09.45 hours Rajputana under the command of Captain Frederick Henry Taylor RN, Rtd, was sighted by the German submarine U-108 under the command of Kapitänleutnant Klaus Scholtz.

U-108 followed Rajputana which was on a zigzag course at cruising speed, sometimes making 180° turns.

The chase was hampered by problems with the U-Boats periscope, pack ice and snow squalls.

At 1808 hours, U-108 launched two torpedoes, both of which missed.

Kapitänleutnant Klaus Scholtz continued the chase through the night and into the next day.

At 2046 and 2048 hrs on the 12th two more torpedoes were launched, but again both missed.

The following morning at 0740 hrs a fifth torpedo was launched by the U-Boat which frustratingly for Klaus Scholtz also missed its target.

Three minutes later he launched a sixth torpedo which hit Rajputana's stern, causing a fire.

Just prior to the torpedo hit, U-108’s periscope had been sighted and Rajputana gunners had opened fire.t 0823 hrs U-108 launched another torpedo to finish the ship off, which struck home but failed to explode. U-108 then

circled the crippled Rajputana and at 0930 hrs launched the coup de grâce which struck her near the stern, causing Rajputana to list to port and start to sink.

Sinking took over an hou, and in that time, an SOS was transmitted and the majority of the  ship's officers and crew were able to abandon ship.





A total of 283 of her crew were saved by the destroyer HMS Legion and the Polish ORP Piorun, although some of the survivors spent twelve hours in overcrowded lifeboats awaiting rescue.

The Convoy Commodore, Commander Cyril Thomas Oswald Richardson RNR, four officers and 37 ratings were lost.


The dramatic chase is described in the following radio message sent by U-108, "Reached operational area on Thursday 10 April.

 Saturday 12 April armed merchant cruiser in sight.

First attack one torpedo, failure firing. Second attack: double shot. Enemy zigzagging. Pursuit to the edge of the ice.

Attack terminated by darkness. 13 April sighted and attacked armed merchant cruiser. Triple shot. Two hits, one torpedo failure. Armed merchant cruiser stopped. Coup de grace. Enemy sunk.

At sinking position two destroyers and a Sunderland. Name of the armed merchant cruiser 'Rajputana'.



U-108 was a Type IXB U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine, laid down at DeSchiMAG AG Weser in Bremen as yard number 971 on 27th December 1938, and launched on 15th July 1940 and commissioned on 22nd  October

under Korvettenkapitän Klaus Scholtz. 

She was bombed and sunk at Stettin, on 11th April 1944, raised and decommissioned on 17th July 1944, then scuttled on 24th April 1945.