Classic Cars at the Bottom of the Sea

Very cool piece from the London Daily Mail



Loaded on the ship were a wide range of military vehicles which were being transported by the ship from Glasgow to Alexandria, Egypt.

(photo courtesy of London Daily Mail)


Treasure trove of classic cars at the bottom of the sea: The British Merchant Navy ship carrying military vehicles that was sunk in the Red Sea during the Second World War

from London Daily Mail  of 23 May 2014

by Leon Watson



  • British Merchant Navy ship the SS Thistlegorm sank after it was bombed in 1941
  • The 128-metre-long vessel has lain 30m beneath the Red Sea for 73 years 
  • Still contained within the rusting cargo hold are a wide range of military vehicles
  • They were being transported by the ship from Glasgow to Alexandria, Egypt 


Motorbikes inside the hold of the SS Thistlegorm, a British Merchant Navy ship that sank after it was bombed by two German planes in 1941.

(photo courtesy of London Daily Mail)

There are more photographs of the sunken ship and cargo and a cool video at the Daily Mail link here:



 British Merchant Navy SS Thistlegorm 100 feet down on the bottom of the Red Sea.

By this time in the war, almost all British merchant ships were armed to defend against air attack, German raiders or surfaced U-Boats. These were known as DEMS (defensively equipped merchant ship). The guns were manned by several Royal Navy sailors and merchant sailors who had been trained to operate the gun.

(photo by Albert Kok2 courtesy of Wikipedia)


Trucks in the hold of SS Thistlegorm

(photo by Albert Kok2 courtesy of Wikipedia)

the wikipedia link is here:

Below is a cool site by a British diver who researched the wreck in detail and took many photographs and videos of the wreck of the SS Thistlegorm.


Flugzeug Heinkel He 111

3 September 1939 HE 111 dropping bombs during the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany

(photo from German National Archive)

As referenced, the ship was sunk in the Red Sea by two bombs from a German Heinkel He 111. This twin engine medium bomber was effective but was vulnerable to high performance fighters such as the RAF Spitfire because the Heinkel was slow (273 mph/440 km/h). It was originally developed as a “passenger plane” by the Luftwaffe in the early 1930s and the its speed in those years was considered fast but airciraft performance and speed increased dramatically as newer designs came into service in the later 1930s.

If you have an interest in diving on the wreck there is a link about that here:

Invergordon Mutiny of the Royal Navy – Part 4

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12

HMS Valiant in Cromarty Firth, Invergordon, circa 1932.

Prior to paying off, the HMS Valiant was part of the Royal Navy’s Mediterranean Fleet, based in Malta. After paying off in March of 1929, HMS Valiant was taken out of service for an extensive re-fit. On December 2, 1930, the ship was put back into commission and joined the Atlantic Fleet. In the fashion of the Royal Navy, most of the crew came from one of the three manning barracks. In this case, the crew of HMS Valiant was drawn from the Chatham Barracks. However, in what was later seen as a major mistake, some of the crew were drawn from another manning depot which made for hard feelings among the ratings. They wanted to be with men from their own area and not with sailors drawn from other manning barracks in the UK.

Main offices of HMS Pembroke (The Chatham Barracks). All shore establishments in the Royal Navy are named as if they were ships. Now a part of the University of Kent, this red brick building built at the turn of the 20th Century would have been familiar to tens of thousands British sailors.

All Royal Navy ships had home ports and at the three largest, the Navy maintained huge barracks for lower deck ratings and Petty Officers awaiting assignment to a new ship. These barracks were often overcrowded, dirty, and served terrible food.

Sailors with any money would often bribe the Petty Officers who assigned the crews to get a better billet. The most coveted were the ships which stayed in their home ports and were not sent for three years to an outpost of the Empire. While that could be fun for young, single ratings, the older men often had families and children and didn’t want to spend years away from them.

Ratings were issued new uniforms and kit here at the “Stores” warehouse. All of these buildings are part of the University of Kent.

Many families rented shabby quarters in the ports where the barracks were situated if their men were assigned there. No matter where you were sent, almost all the men came from one of the three manning depots and when they returned from commission, they were put back in the pool of men, always at the same barracks from which they originated.

The ship underwent another refit in the late 1930s and served with distinction in World War Two.

HMS Valiant after her second refit in 1937-39, which greatly enhanced her combat effectiveness. The late ’30s reconstruction was particularly comprehensive, giving the ship an up-to-date appearance and greatly improved anti-aircraft defenses.

The following is quoted from the US Naval Historical Center:

HMS Valiant‘s World War II service was far-flung: the Home Fleet in 1940, Mediterranean in 1941-42, Indian Ocean in 1942, Atlantic and Mediterranean in 1943-44 and back to the Indian Ocean in 1944. She took part in operations off Norway in April 1940. While in the Mediterranean in 1941, Valiant participated in the Battle of Cape Matapan in March, was bombed off Crete in May, and received serious damage from a daring Italian underwater commando raid at Alexandria, Egypt, in December.

During 1943, she supported the invasions of Sicily in July, and Salerno in September, and twice she bombarded enemy forces ashore during the latter operation. She also escorted the Italian Fleet into Malta after Italy had agreed to Allied terms. In August 1944, the venerable battleship was damaged in a dry dock accident at Trincomalee, Ceylon, requiring her to return to England for extensive repairs that lasted into 1946. After final service as a training ship, HMS Valiant was sold for scrapping in March 1948.

[Source: US Naval Historical Center. Images courtesy of The Invergordon Archive, The Kent History Forum, and The Invergordon Archive.]

The Royal Navy and the Evacuation of British Troops from Crete – Part 4

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4

The British Fight to Hold Onto Crete

A Fallschirmjäger and a DFS 230 glider in Crete.

A mixed bunch of 40,000 regular British Army and Commonwealth troops were sent to Crete to bolster the 14,000 British soldiers already on the island. Of the 40,000 sent to re-enforce the island, 10,000 did not have arms or equipment and were dumped in Crete during the incredible confusion of the evacuation just to get them out of Greece. There was no time to send them to Egypt before the Germans attacked Crete.

Included in this force were some 9,000 Greek troops in various states of organization and disorganization with some being veteran soldiers, others transport and logistics personnel and others being cadets. Added to this group were the local gendarmerie on Crete.

Lieutenant General Bernard Freyberg VC, commanding officer of the British forces on Crete, gazes over the parapet of his dug-out in the direction of the German advance. – May 1941

[Source: Engage the Enemy More Closely: The Royal Navy in the Second World War by Correlli Barnett. Images courtesy of Wikipedia and Wikipedia.]

Churchill’s Political Career Almost Ended in 1916 because of he Disastrous Gallipoli Campaign of World War One

Australian actor Mark Lee portraying ANZAC soldier Archy Hamilton at the moment of his death in a senseless charge against Turkish trenches in the brilliant Peter Weir film, Gallipoli. This freeze frame image ends the movie and is deeply shocking. Perhaps it was more deeply shocking when I saw it in 1981 when it was originally released. Movies have gotten a lot more bloody since then.

We Americans generally know less about World War One than World War Two because American participation in World War One is rarely a subject portrayed in popular culture. If we know anything, it usually comes from watching a brilliant movies such as Gallipoli by Australian director Peter Weir. This movie, released in 1981, stars a young Mel Gibson and a young Mark Lee. For whatever reason, Gibson went onto fame and Lee did not.

Mark Lee stars as Archy Hamilton and Mel Gibson stars as Frank Dunne in Paramount Pictures’ Gallipoli. The pyramids are in the background of the photo on the upper right because the ANZAC forces were training in Egypt prior to being sent into combat.

[Images courtesy of Podcast Film Review and Gallipoli Movie Stills.]