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Military Vehicles Resting in the Red Sea



Military Vehicles Resting in the Red Sea

Ian Harvey

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The difference between historic buildings and relics discovered in the ground and those found underwater is that the latter seem frozen in time and fully represent the age they once were part of. The SS Thistlegorm was a British armed Merchant Navy ship built in 1940 by Joseph Thompson & Son in Sunderland,England. She was sunk on 6 October 1941 near Ras Muhammad in the Red Sea and is now a well known diving site

The British Merchant Navy ship ‘The SS Thistlegorm’, a 128-metre-long vessel was transporting the cargo to Egypt, when it came under fire from German bombers. The allies were fighting against Hitler and Mussolini in North Africa, and were in dire need of supplies, German bombers made sure no or very limited supplies arrive on North African shores to aid the allies. The ship along with its tons of cargo was swallowed by the waves of Red Sea and has lain underwater for over 73 years now.

Built in Sunderland in 1940, The SS Thistlegorm left for Egypt from Glasgow on June 2, 1941 under the captaincy of William Ellis. The ship had 41 crew on board including 9 members of Royal Navy who manned the guns on board the vessel. After refuelling at Cape Town, the ships had to pass through the Suez Canal but could not make the journey due to a collision blocking the passage. It instead moved to a save anchorage near Ras Muhammad in Egypt. While still anchored two German Heinkel HE-111 bombed the ship killing four members of merchant crew and five naval personnel perished.

Mark Harris who is a veteran British marine explorer dived to study and photograph the shipwreck and was very amused at the sight of vintage vehicles resting at the bottom. Talking about his discovery, Harris said that the vehicles represent the moment of time that is long gone from our memory, however seeing these shipwrecks brings one face to face with the past and is an awesome experience.

Swathes of fish and other aquatic creatures have converted the ‘well-preserved’ wreck into a thriving reef and is a sight worth seeing. The wreck contains a number of public and military vehicles including armored trucks, Norton 16H, BSA motorcycles, Bedford trucks, Bren guns and many cases of ammunition. (Mail Online)

Along with the vehicles, there are tons of other stuff lying in the wreck as well including some aircraft parts, wellington boots, radio equipment, and two large locomotive engines probably for the Egyptian railways. Harris from Surrey said that divers have a unique and unmatched respect for such underwater wrecks and relics contained in them. He added, that the reason why the Wellington boots are still lying on seabed and no diver has looted them yet points towards the fact that for divers these wrecks are more than just pieces of rusting artefacts.

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