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Underwater | SS Thistlegorm

SS Thistlegorm

The Red Sea's most popular and best-known wreck of all of time

The SS Thistlegorm was a British cargo steamship that was built in North East England in 1940 and sunk by German bomber aircraft in 1941. It is the most popular and best-known shipwreck of all of time located in the Northen Red Sea.

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A Brief History

The SS Thistlegorm was a British freigher belonging to the shipping company Albyn Lyne Ltd. It was one of a group of vessels whose names began with the prefix “thistle” the national flower of Scotland. Launched on 9 April 1940 at the shipyard of Thompson & Sons Ltd in Sunderland, the Thistlegorm was a freighter assigned to transport supplies and war material to the British armed forces at the beginning of World War II.

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Bomb shells underwater
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Anti-Aircraft gun from SS Thistlegorm wreck
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Screw-propeller on the shipwreck SS Thistlegorm
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Wreck of the SS Thistlegorm in the Egyptian Red Sea
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The "Secret" Mission

The Thistlegorm took part in the secret mission code-named "Operation Crusader". It was intended to deliver supplies to the 200,000-strong British 8th Army stationed in Egypt and Cyrenaica under the command of Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. In May 1941, the Thistlegorm, with a crew of 39 men, left the port of Glasgow and headed toward Alexandria. The ship was carrying ammuntions of different kind, antitank mines; Lee Enfield MK III rifles; some one hundred motorcycles; trucks; transport trailers; portable field generators; spare parts for airplanes, and land vehicles; medicines; tires; and rubber boots.

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Inside SS Thistlegorm - Truck
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303 Enfield Carabines In The SS Thistlegorm
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The Last Voyage

Thistlegorm was sunk during a surprise attack by a pair of Heinkel He-111 bombers dispatched from flight squadron KG26 in Crete during the night between 5 and 6 October 1941. They attacked her at 0.35 am on 6 October. The attack came as a complete surprise, and the Thistlegorm had no time to defend herself. Two bombs hit the SS Thistlegorm’s ammunition room and at 1:30 am, the ship sank rapidly at the depth of a little over 30 meters.

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Motorcycle Norton 16H on shipwreck SS Thistlegorm

The Thistlegorm Project

The Thistlegorm Project is an ongoing underwater archaeological survey project recording the remains of the SS Thistlegorm in the Red Sea using cutting edge digital techniques, to raise awareness of the wreck and to help ensure it preservation for future generations.

El Tor, South Sinai Governorate, Egypt