KendallQ

Kendall McDonald, a former Fleet Street editor, has been diving (and writing about it) for more than 45 years. He has been DIVERs wreck expert since 1960.
DON'T GIVE UP THE HOLIDAY JOBS YET  

Copper tokens retrieved from the Admiral Gardner - individually they wont fund anyones further education.
I have a coin in a case with a certificate of authenticity saying that it came from the Admiral Gardner wreck. I want to sell it on eBay to pay off my student loans. Can you give me some idea of what it is worth, and what sort of figure I should use to start the bidding
Eric Defoe


The 800 ton Admiral Gardner, an outward-bound British East Indiaman, was sunk on the Goodwin Sands after violent gales blew her from her anchorage off the Kent coast on 25 January, 1809.
An archaeological diving team led by Richard Larn surveyed the wreck for three years from 1983 to 1986. They found barrels and barrels full of thousands of coins - which were really East India Company copper tokens with original face values in farthings. The native Indian workers were to be paid with them, and they could be cashed only in the companys stores!
One million of the copper coins were raised and millions more were left in the wreck, which is now protected, with no diving permitted within 150m of it.
I contacted Dick Larn at his home in the Scilly Isles and he told me that many of the copper tokens were sold for promotions by Masters Matches and BP petrol stations to defray the diving teams expenses on the Admiral Gardner.
What sort of value would he put on one of the coins I hope Eric will not be too disappointed, but Dick says that on eBay now the coins marked 10 cash sell for £3 to £5 each and the 20 cash from £8 to £10.
Where is the Argyll  
I cant find any record of the ss Argyll, which Im told was torpedoed off the Scilly Isles on 17 April, 1917. Can you help

She was actually torpedoed by the German submarine U-84 on 13 April that year. I hope youre not thinking of diving the wreck - it is out in the Atlantic 110 miles west of Bishop Rock at approximately 49 23.00N, 09 07.00W.
The 340ft, 3547 ton Argyll was carrying a cargo of iron ore from Port Kelah to Middlesbrough. Twenty-two of her crewmen were killed; the captain was among the survivors.
Quest for the Unicorn  
In researching some of the lesser-known wrecks out of Plymouth, I came up with the Unicorn, a small tramp steamer sunk in 1923 and now lying about 50m down off Rame Head. Any more information would be welcome.
Paul Hennessey


The Unicorn was a 134 ton vessel, 90ft long, built in North Shields in 1895. She had twin masts, one boiler and a three-cylinder triple-expansion engine producing only 40hp. The funnel was aft. On 8 April, 1923, she was about to complete a voyage from Jersey to Plymouth with a cargo of bricks and tiles for roofs and floors when she was seen to up-end and sink at 3.30pm, three miles SSW of Rame Head.
Only the mate and cook survived, after being picked up by the tug-towed Plymouth lifeboat. They said that the weather had been bad and that they were making for Plymouth when the steamer suddenly foundered in about 15 fathoms of water.
The position given was 50 16. 54N; 04 15.26W, but I wouldnt bank on it. Please let me know what the wreck is like if you manage to dive it.
Fire that there gun at im!  

U-12, the sister-submarine of U-13

I am researching two U-boats sunk off Southwold on 1 February, 1917 by Q-boat skippers Wharton and Crisp. No record of these losses appears on any online U-boat sites. If anyone can identify them, I would be grateful. I am also involved in an expedition to locate the wreck of U-13, sunk in 1940 by HMS Weston off Lowestoft. Has anyone dived it
Robert Jarvis, curator of Lowestoft War Memorial Museum.


Im afraid you wont get far if youre looking for U-boat losses in the action of 1 February, 1917. Both submarines involved are reported to have survived, and German records show no U-boats lost on that day.
East Coast fishing smacks were armed and sent out from Lowestoft to decoy U-boats within range of their hidden guns. An account of the time says: The armed smack Boy Alfred, (Skipper WS Wharton, RNR) was operating about 17 miles south-east of Southwold together with another smack named Ill Try ( Skipper TS Crisp) when a submarine appeared within 300 yards of the Boy Alfred and waved a flag for the smack to approach closer.
Simultaneously the German fired either a machine gun or a rifle, hitting the smack in many places.
The submarine had got within a hundred yards when the German commanding officer emerged from the conning-tower, ordering Wharton to abandon ship. Im going to torpedo you, he threatened.
What the skipper answered does not matter, though you may guess, adding: Fire that there gun at im!
Bang went the shell of the three-pounder. Another followed promptly. And a third. The aim was excellent. At short range the missile hit the U-boat plump, just before the conning-tower, and burst.
The Germans did not stop to argue the point. The impact and bursting of a shell came as such a surprise that when a fourth arrived and penetrated the conning-tower, the dazed Germans had received enough, and disappeared.
Meanwhile a second submarine, which obviously was co-operating and waiting his chance, had gone eastward of the smacks. Skipper Crisp in Ill Try took on this one. When the whole of the upper deck and conning-tower appeared 200 yards off the starboard bow, Crisp seized his chance, putting the helm hard over to bring the submarine off the smacks broadside.
The smack fired one shot, but it was a beauty. Smiting the base of the conning-tower, it caused an explosion that blew pieces of the submarine into the sea. A torpedo then passed under the stern of Ill Try, missing by about 10ft. The sub was not seen again.
This account states that it was long believed that Crisp had severely damaged one U-boat and was awarded the DSC. The Admiralty also believed that Wharton had sunk his submarine, and he was given a bar to his DSC. The £1000 reward for sinking a U-boat was awarded to the crew of Boy Alfred.
But there is an addition: It is only fair to state that of the submarines, neither received fatal damage. Sweeping operations were undertaken in the vicinity, but no obstructions were discovered. It was afterwards believed that both enemies managed to get home, so we must regard the incident off Southwold as proving nothing further than the fishermens boldness.
That summer, Crisp went down with his smack when returning fire after being shelled by a U-boat. He was awarded a posthumous VC.
You should have better luck with your second question. U-13 was launched on 9 November, 1935 and sunk on 31 May, 1940 north of Newcastle in position 55 26N, 02 02E by depth charges from the Royal Navy sloop HMS Weston. Oberleutnant Max Schulte and his crew of 26 survived after abandoning the sub when she was forced to surface. Perhaps divers will let us know if she has been dived.
More on U-boats  
Do you have any more information on a WW1 German submarine we first dived over a year ago I told you then that our skipper thought it might be a minelayer, possibly U-77. It is in 45m about three miles out from North Berwick and the Firth of Forth. The bow section up to the conning-tower is clear and upright, at a slightly raised angle. The stern is missing, perhaps buried in the silt.
Steve Geraghty.


I had forgotten about this vessel, so I put your question to U-boat diving guru Innes McCartney. He thinks it could well be U-77 - but also perhaps UC-41, UB-63 or U-12.
He would be willing to dive it with you and help with some positive ID - please call him on 01736 330769.
U-77 left Heligoland on 5 July, 1916, with orders to lay mines off Kinnaird Head. She obviously did, because two days later the mines were found and cleared up by British minesweepers. No more was heard of this U-boat.