YORKSHIRE DIVE UNCOVERS
It was the Royal Navy’s greatest disaster –
fourteen hundred men died when one German U-boat sunk three British
cruisers in an hour.
Now Inside Out can reveal exclusive images of
It was September 1914 and the three armoured cruisers
HMS Cressy, Aboukir and Hogue were on patrol off the Dutch Coast.
They weren’t zig-zagging and were travelling with their
water-tight doors open. They were oblivious to the danger that was about
to confront them.
Not believing their luck were the crew of German submarine
U-9. In less than an hour they’d torpedoed all three ships, sinking them
one after the other.
Professor Eric Groves, a naval historian from Hull University
says: "The main criticism after the event was why were they travelling
so slowly, why did the other ships stop to pick up survivors and why weren’t
the water tight doors closed?"
"I would put that down to experience… People were learning
on the job what the dynamics of modern naval warfare would be."
The wrecks lie twenty-five miles off the Dutch coast
in 100 feet of water. It’s their extreme location that’s attracted Yorkshire
divers Garry Hudson, Nick Pearce and Kevin Richardson.
|The dive team
spent three days exploring the wreck
The team spent three days diving the wrecks. Garry says,
"It’s pretty extreme stuff, beyond what most sports divers can achieve."
"We had to take down extra tanks and a special mix of
gasses that would enable us to stay down beyond our limits."
Nick says, "The wrecks aren’t in a very good shape."
"The weight of the guns meant they turned turtle when
they sank, so most of the ships have been crushed under the hull."
"It’s a shame to think that in another fifty or sixty
years time there won’t be much more left to see."
"It’s pretty eerie stuff down there when all you can
hear is the sound of your bubbles. A lot of men and boys were on these
boats. It’s hard to think what they went through so that we can have our
|Much of the ship
has been crushed under the hull
Amongst the 800 survivors was 15 year-old Kit Wykeham
Musgrave, who can lay claim to having been torpedoed on all three boats
yet lived to tell the tale.
His daughter Pru Bailey-Hamilton says, "He went overboard
when the Aboukir was going down and he swam like mad to get away from
"He was then just getting on board the Hogue and she
was torpedoed. He then went and swam to the Cressy and she was also torpedoed."
"He eventually found a bit of driftwood, became unconscious
and was eventually picked up by a Dutch trawler."
Garry Says, "The story of what happened to these three
ships is amazing. One minute you’re on patrol, the next all hell breaks
loose. It was one of those things that should never have happened and
certainly didn’t happen again."