Archive for the ‘SS Thistlegorm’ Tag

Egypt – Diving the Thistlegorm   Leave a comment

Hello readers,

It’s been a while, in fact it’s been a long time since I wrote here.  This site was/is all about Kerry and I’s travels around the world, so it feels only appropriate to share our trip to Egypt back in June 2014 and in particular diving the World War 2 wreck the Thistlegorm.  For Kerry and I this was a must see attraction (we had done the pyramids on a previous trip in 2006 on our first ever holiday abroad)

Because we we hadn’t dived since Thailand in September 2012, we thought we would break ourselves in gently with a few reef dives before the big one.  These were amazing with so many fish and coral.  It was great being back in the water, but always on the horizon was the Thistlegorm. To give her her official title the SS Thistlegorm was a British armed Merchant Navy ship built in 1940. She was sunk on 6 October 1941 near Ras Muhammad in the Red Sea and is now a well known diving site.

She set sail on her fourth and final voyage from Glasgow on 2 June 1941, destined for Alexandria, Egypt. The vessel’s cargo included: Bedford trucks, Universal Carrier armoured vehicles, Norton 16H and BSA motorcycles, Bren guns, cases of ammunition, and 0.303 rifles as well as radio equipment, Wellington boots, aircraft parts, railway wagons and two LMS Stanier Class 8F steam locomotives. These steam locomotives and their associated coal and water tenders were carried as deck cargo and were for the Egyptian Railways. The rest of the cargo was for the Allied forces in Egypt. At the time the Thistlegorm sailed from Glasgow in June, this was the Western Desert Force, which in September 1941 became part of the newly formed Eighth Army. The crew of the ship, under Captain William Ellis, were supplemented by 9 naval personnel to man the machine gun and the anti-aircraft gun. She was bombed and sunk by the Germans basically because they has bombs left on their bombers. They hadn’t found there intended target. The ship sank with the loss of four sailors and five members of the Royal Navy gun crew.

The ship was torn open like a tin of sardines, which gives the idea of the scale of the explosions that occurred that day.  Its an eerie place to dive.  We first made a dive to the wreck with a tour of the outer hull and deck. Our second dive was to penetrate the wreck, though the holds to see the aforementioned cargo and onwards up through the wreck to the captains quarters, past the bridge and on to the deck.  Put simply it was amazing. Our guides from Emperor Diving where brilliant which all added up to an experience that will stay with us both for a lifetime.

 

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