- 01225 460333
The Colombo was a P. & O. steamer of 2,107 gross tonnage and 450 horse power, built in 1853. She struck on Minicoy Island, the most Southern of the Laccadives, at four o'clock in the morning of 19th November, 1862 in very thick weather, there being torrential rain at the time.
After striking, she fell over to windward, exposing her deck to the sea, which poured down the hatchways and skylights. Nothing could be done to save the ship, but the boats on the land side were cleared, and by 8.0 a.m. all the passengers and crew had been safely landed.
Fortunately, Minicoy Island is well populated and the inhabitants, who were very hospitable, took care of the ship's company until they were rescued by the Ottawa on 30th November. Hendy states that the mails were recovered by divers and that most of the bags were three months under water.
Hopkins showed part of the collection of wreck covers to a meeting of a philatelic society some years ago and had just described Colombo. A man in the audience commented, "I know all about that one". Expressing surprise Hopkins asked "How"? He said "My grandmother was born on the island after the wreck and they named her 'Minicoy'"!
Incidentally, the kindness and hospitality shown to the ship's company by the inhabitants of this remote island was in great contrast to the treatment accorded in the case of the earlier wreck of Brothers in 1833. The community on shore made no effort to save life, being solely interested in plunder. It would not be unfair to say that South Wales was uncivilised in those days!