By Super Jolly for War History Online:
- Underwater for 68 years, a snap shot in time and beautifully preserved
- WWII cargo so desperately needed by Allied forces in Egypt, bombed just short of it’s destination
- This watery grave has become the most popular dive site in the Egyptian Redsea attracting hundreds of visitors every day to experience this underwater memorial
Diving on the SS Thistlegorm is like travelling back to a by-gone era. The ship and its artefacts have been frozen in suspended animation since its sinking, in October 1941, at the hands of German and Italian Intelligence.
She was built in Sunderland in 1940, part-financed by the British Government.
Her rich cargo carefully placed in open holds included Bedford Trucks, Morris jeeps, motorcycles, Bren tanks, aircraft parts and Stainier locomotives destined for the Allied forces in Egypt.
Heinkel He-111 aircraft, dispatched from Crete, dropped two bombs striking hold four. Coupled with the explosion of munitions being transported within the hold, Thistlegorm sunk with the loss of only nine men.This watery war museum with its memorabilia scattered on the ocean bed is now rapidly disintegrating as a result of natural rusting and looting by souvenir hunters.
Another major cause of this erosion is due to dive boats mooring directly on the wreck weakening its structure and causing it to collapse.
As the Sinai’s most prized marine possession, Thistlegorm still holds the reputation of being a legendary dive site and provides a spectacular dive experience for wreck enthusiasts and wildlife seekers alike.