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.
WRECKS FOR SALE  
We want to buy two old abandoned wrecks which we dive. We have, of course, the positions and the names of the wrecks and dates of loss, but who should we approach
Tony Mason


Buying your own wreck seems a very good idea in these troubled times for wreck-divers. Surely nobody can complain about you if you are diving your own wrecks But I bet theyll still try!
Gone, of course, are the days when diving clubs used to snap up huge sunken merchantmen for a mere fiver and the Navy sold ancient wooden warship wrecks to divers for£50. No talk of war graves then, though some 700 men died in one that was sold in 1960 for that sum.
Despite all the recent hoo-hah about wrecks, it is still possible for divers to buy them, and the method of doing so has changed little in the past half-century of amateurs underwater.
All wrecks belong to someone so your main task is to trace the owner. Your ships and their cargo were almost certainly covered by insurance, and when they sank it is likely that claims for total loss were paid. So the underwriters might still own the rights and be willing to sell them for a nominal sum of a few hundred pounds.
Lloyds records are held by the Guildhall Library, though they do not contain insurance records. However, the librarys Second World War Loss Cards and the Marine Loss cards from 1939 to 1975 sometimes contain the names of underwriters or brokers involved in the loss. Newspaper cuttings or notes of salvage attempts are also sometimes attached, though this is unusual. You will need to give the Guildhall Library (020 7332 1868) notice if you wish to see the cards for your ships.
If your vessels were casualties in either war, the Department of Transport (Domestic Shipping Policy and Emergency Division) in London (020 7276 5625) can give details of ownership of both hull and cargo of allied merchant ships sunk. And as it often paid out the wartime insurance, it might be able to sell you your wrecks.
The Salvage Association in London (020 7623 1299) can also help. If you find it reluctant, you should know it is snowed under by divers asking for details of ships from records which go back to 1860. Make it clear that you are serious about buying the ships and it should help you.
If your ships are British naval vessels, you will still have considerable difficulty in buying at the moment, even if they are not war graves. The Director of Navy Contracts (Supplies) Section DC11(1) at Bath is the man who sells naval ships, or merchant ships which were on naval service, and sanctions salvage.
Let me know when you are the proud owners - and how much they cost you. But dont forget that ownership brings responsibilities as well as pleasure. If another ship were to hit your wreckage, some other underwriters will be contacting you!
Drifting Minx  
Can you tell me anything about a sunken ship called Minx near Osmington Mills in Dorset
Philip


You can find details of this wreck in the Diver Guide entitled Dive Dorset. Minx was a steam-powered coal barge which broke free from her moorings in Portland Harbour in November, 1927. She drifted crewless through the night before striking the cliffs and sinking some 50 yards out. Her ribs show at low water.
Seeking the Ruler  
Im trying to find my fathers old ship, the aircraft-carrier HMS Ruler. Where do I start
Peter Quainton


You can try the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton, Somerset (01935 840565) but you could have a long chase. HMS Ruler was an escort carrier, one of 14 built by Kaiser at Vancouver, Washington in 1943 and used by the Navy under Lease-Lend. She saw action in the Atlantic in 1944 and at Okinawa. She was returned to the USA in 1946.
Who were the Gushes  
Do you have any information about the three generations of divers called Gush who operated in the early 1800-1900s Charles Gush started up in the 1800s and was followed by his son James, who was followed in turn by his son David. The last Gush, David, worked out of Stranraer harbour up until 1974. Pat Gallacher

You need the Historical Diving Society. Chairman John Bevan is at present researching just that period and has material on the Gushes. In 1870 and 1871, they were working the Tobermory galleon and one had a lucky escape when his air line burst. James Gush is later recorded as back diving at Tobermory. John would like to hear from you (020 7373 3069).
Mmm, nice  
While diving on the wreck of the Oslofjord near the entrance to the Tyne, I found a fork with the ships crest stamped on it. But under the crest are the letters MMM. What do they stand for
Peter


 I consulted the wreck diver we call the Divers Jeweller, Mike Maloney of Hatton Garden (most diving jewellery was originally created by Mike). He told me that the three Ms were the mark of the cutlery-maker for this 18,673 ton luxury liner of the Norwegian-American line, which was converted to a troopship in 1940 and struck a mine on 1 December that year.
In her Atlantic crossing days she carried 860 passengers in five main decks and was known for her luxurious fittings. All the tableware, which includes your fork, was of pewter or solid silver. Divers have found quite a lot of this silverware over the years.
U-boat numbers  
We have been diving the Falmouth U-boats and would like to find out more about their history. Can you tell us their numbers
Chris Plumb


Fraid not, but I think I can tell you someone who can. The 176 U-boats which surrendered at the end of WWI were divided up like this: France got 46, Italy 10, Japan 7, the USA 6 and Belgium 2. Britain got 105, nearly all of which were either broken up or used as gunnery targets.
 The ones you have dived were some of the eight allocated to Falmouth from Harwich for Royal Navy gunnery practice. We know the number of one, U-118, because she broke her tow on 14 November, 1920, and was sunk off Dodman Point by gunfire from HMS Kennet, a sloop, as she was a danger to navigation. Two more were sunk in exercises and the remaining five were driven ashore in Falmouth Bay in November 1921 during a gale.
These are the ones you have dived, but which are they I have all the numbers of the surrendered U-boats, but thats little help. Get hold of the Falmouth librarian and tell him that the local weekly Falmouth Packet carried a report on 26 November, 1920 of the subs arrival. Or ring the Public Record Office at Kew (020 8392 5200) and ask if the Admiraltys weekly reports from coastal stations would cover Falmouth at that time.