Have you ever planned an amazing trip and just knew your photography skills just wouldn’t be up to the challenge of really showing the true beauty of the place? I have, quite often in fact. So when it came time to dive Thistlegorm near Sharm El Sheik, Egypt, I was pleasantly surprised and relieved to learn that the charter boat had a professional underwater photographer on board, that would dive with me all day and sell me the pictures. One look at his work, let alone the massive and expensive photography equipment he had, and I was in. Now all I had to worry about was the dive itself. So, all photos credit to Denis Zorzin.
Some History on SS Thislegorm
Launched in 1940 in England as an armed merchant ship, the S.S Thistlegorm was meant to haul heavy cargo to allied troops during World War Two. She was fitted with a 120 mm anti aircraft gun and a heavy caliber 40 mm machine gun on the stern to protect it from the German air force. These huge guns can still be seen on the wreck today, along with all its cargo. Thistlegorm set sail from Scotland in May 1941 full of military surplus, destined for Alexandria, Egypt to supply the 8th British Army.
What should have been a relatively short journey through the Mediterranean, was deemed too dangerous due to heavy German Navy and Airforce in the area. Instead, Thistlegorm turned south and made a long journey all the way around Africa, stopping in Cape Town, and then rounding South Africa and returning north. The plan was to journey through the Suez Canal and into Alexandria.
The ship’s cargo included cases of ammunition, anti tank mines, aircraft and truck parts, Triumph motorcycles, Bedford and Ford trucks, Wellington boots, Enfield rifles, Universal Brent armored Carriers, two LMS Stainer class 8f steam locomotives and cars for the Egyptian railways. Most of these things can still be seen on the wreck, except for whats been stolen by divers. Two German Heinkel HE III dispatched from Crete to search and destroy the Queen Mary, which was said to be carrying many troops from Australia.
Instead they found Thistlegorm at anchor. They dropped bombs on her on 5th of October, 1941, sinking her forever. 14 years later Jacques Cousteau discovered Thislegorm again, aboard his famous Calypso. After raising a motorcycle, the captains safe and the ship’s bell, he sailed on and Thislegorm was forgotten again until rediscovered again by an Israeli fisherman in 1992. It is now one of the most famous and best wreck dives in the world, and you can see why.
How to get to S.S Thistlegorm
Because of Thistlegorm being such a magnificent wreck to dive, at a maximum of 30 meters, as well as great reef in the area, Sharm El Sheik, Egypt has become a major tourist destination. This means that basically the whole tourist industry of the South Sinai is based off of diving. It also means that many tour operators, flights, and buses go straight to Sharm.
There are cheap flights from Cairo, as well as locations all over Europe. Popular direct flights on budgets airlines are from Germany, France, Russia, Italy, Ireland and maybe the cheapest, London-Gatwick. From Cairo there are over night buses that take around 8 hours to get to Sharm, and if you are visiting the amazing diving in nearby Dahab, then they are only about an hour’s taxi ride apart.
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