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.
SCYLLA WAS NOT A UK FIRST  
I have dived HMS Scylla several times since she was put in position. Every time, someone on board the dive boat has described her as the first ship to be sunk deliberately in British waters as an artificial reef. I dont believe this can be right. I seem to remember another ship being sunk just off Plymouth for divers as an artificial reef years ago. Am I right
David Bone


You certainly are. The ship youre thinking of is the Glen Strathallan and youll find the boiler and part of the bows still intact and upright on the sand at 15m amid a forest of kelp south of the Shag Stone outside Plymouth Sound, at 50 18.93N; 04 07.62W.
Glen Strathallan was scuttled on 27 April 1970 by Alan Bax and Jim Gill of Fort Bovisand, following the owners instructions in his will. Then she was described as the first and only ship in Britain to be sunk especially for divers to study as an artificial reef.
The vessel was built as a trawler of 330 tons in 1928, 150ft long with a beam of 22ft. Later multi-millionaire Colby Cubbin bought her and spent£30,000 converting her into a pleasure yacht. In WW2 she served with the Navy as an escort ship and after the war Mr Cubbin got his yacht back and used it for cruising until his death. In his will he stipulated that she should be used as a training ship for boys, which she was, and added that when she became too old for that, she was to be sunk in deep water.
However, the place where she was put down as an underwater classroom for divers to study marine growth was not all that deep, and the wreck had to be partly dispersed a year later.
Lets hope that the second ship to be sunk for divers and as an artificial reef does not suffer a similar fate!
Submarine practice  
Was it British practice to mark submarine parts with their boats number in WW1, as the Germans did with their U-boats If it was, I may be able to help solve one mystery, but probably cause another.
Sam


All very mysterious, but youll probably not tell us what its all about after I tell you that most divers who specialise in diving on submarines and publishing their research tell me that the Royal Navy did NOT mark parts such as props with the boat number in both wars. You could ask the RN Submarine Museum to confirm this.
Cruisers fate  
Last year I reacted to a Wrecks Q&A from July 2002, in which you wrote about three British cruisers, Aboukir, Cressy and Hogue, torpedoed and sunk by U9 on 22 September 1914. I pointed out that much of the diving information was wrong but received no reply.
Arie Visser, Chairman STIMON,
Dutch Society of Maritime Research


The reason for that, Mr Visser, is that I did not receive your email. The diving information in the original item was sent to me by Dutch divers. These three cruisers lie in about 25m some 22 miles out from Scheveningen and are visited by both British and Dutch divers, who treat them as the giant war graves they are - more than 1400 officers and men of the Royal Navy died in the sinkings.
However, now that you have got through, I am happy to pass on the more up-to-date detail you have supplied about diving the wrecks.
First to be torpedoed, HMS Aboukir, stayed afloat for 25 minutes before capsizing and lay for some time with her keel above water. Position today is 52 15.30N; 03 41.34E.
HMS Hogue was hit by torpedoes from both of U9s bow tubes when she stopped to pick up survivors. The wreck lies at 52 15.22; 03 41.48, some 125m from Aboukir.
HMS Cressy was the last to go. Oberleutnant Otto Weddigen spun U9 boat round and hit Cressy from his stern tubes after she also stopped to pick up survivors, before finishing her off with his last torpedo from a bow tube. The wreck is at 52 15.20; 03 40.82, about 750m from the others.
Arie Visser tells me that today all three cruisers are almost upside-down, with severe damage to their bottoms. Though some of this can be put down to the torpedoes, there was heavy salvage in the 1950s, with all the sterns blown off in recovering the propellers and shafts. Midship sections have been opened with explosives to reach the condensers and in the bows the torpedo tubes have been blown out.
Showing are the powder and shell magazines and the bases of the engines and boilers. The bottoms of the lower 6in gun casemates on the port side of HMS Cressy can be seen. Viz ranges from 1m early in the season to 20m later, averaging about 10m. The Fogo Isle sails regularly from Ijmuiden to take Dutch divers out to the Kruisers. British divers who would like to join them can get more details of these trips from hellaenarievisser @ kabelfoon.nl
Who knows Franz  
Will anyone who has dived the Franz Fischer in the Thames Estuary at 51 37.02N; 01 40.28E please contact me This was the only British ship sunk by a Zeppelin in WW1 and my grandfather Able Seaman Henry Patterson went down with the ship. Id like to include details of the wreck today in our family history.
Shirley Machan


If anyone has the Franz Fischer in their logbook, Ill be happy to pass details on to Mrs Machan in Canada.
Catching the train  
During my time with Exeter BSAC, we dived the Train Wreck, more properly named in my logbook as the St Chamond off St Ives, Cornwall. Recently I was telling a railway enthusiast about the deck cargo of locomotives on the wreck and he wants to know who built the engines, and whether we know who owns the wreck
Doug Butler


I can help a little, but it will still need lots more research. The 2866 ton St Chamond was built in 1913 by W Gray and Co at West Hartlepool for the Soc Anon des Chargeurs de lOuest. As far as I know it was her owner when she was mined and salvaged in the North Sea on 3 September, 1915. It was still her owner when she was torpedoed and sunk by U60, just over a mile off Clodgy Point, St Ives, on 30 April 1918.
The St Chamond of Nantes was 314ft long with a beam of 46ft, which gave enough room for five (some divers say they have counted seven) 75 ton railway locomotives as deck cargo when she left Glasgow for St Nazaire.
The locos and British rolling stock were part of a drive by the Allies to prevent French railways collapsing under the huge movement of men and munitions for the Big Push in 1918 against the German Army.
Several WW1 wrecks with railway engines on board have been found by British divers over the years. A recent discovery at 65m is an unidentified World War One wreck carrying steam engines. Also off Cornwall, it was, however, carrying much bigger locos, 35ft long compared with the 16ft tank engines on the St Chamond, which is in 27m at 50 14.50N; 05 29.54W.
Fate of the Partridge  
The USS Partridge, a US navy ocean tug, was sunk by a torpedo from a German E-boat on 11 June 1944, while towing a Mulberry unit to Arromanches, Normandy. I am a salvor of this ship - do you have any more information
Michael Rich


As usual, Mark James book D-Day Wrecks of Normandy (ISBN 09531856-0-5) provides invaluable information.
Tug AM-16 was laid down on 14 May, 1918 by Chester Shipbuilding Company in the USA, but she was not commissioned until June 1919. She operated in the Pacific until 1941 and in 1942 was converted to an ocean-going tug with a new number, AT-138, working the US eastern seaboard. In May 1944, as ATO-138, she joined Operation Mulberry, placing artificial harbours on Normandy beaches.
On 10 June, she was ordered to tow two Whale units to Mulberry A, the US prefabricated harbour at Omaha Beach. The 80ft, 28 ton units were designed as bridge sections, floating on pontoons and designed to flex with the sea as trucks, tanks and armoured vehicles used them to get to shore.
USS Partridge could tow up to six Whales at six knots, but never got to Omaha. On 11 June, she was sunk by a torpedo from a German E-boat at 2am. No lives were lost, but the Partridge took down the Whale units.
Today, youll find the boilers and other very broken wreckage 2m proud in 32m near a big sunken Mulberry unit some nine miles NNE of Courseulles-sur-Mer, though one of the Whale units is believed to be the one on the seabed only two miles north of Courseulles.