The Maritime Archaeology Trust is launching an advance campaign to improve the research available of First World War shipwrecks and archaeological sites in the Solent.
Many of these sites of archaeological significance occur in the waters around Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and are often a forgotten part of the region’s history. One such example is the SS Londonier, wrecked off the southwest coast of the Isle of Wight.
On 13th March 1918 the Londonier crossed the Channel en route from Calais to the Bristol Channel before suffering an attack by a UC-71 a German submarine. The vessel was abandoned as it sank with 13 men managing to reach the ship's boats and rafts but 12 tragically lost their lives.
Today this shipwreck site has undergone some archaeological research and is frequented by sports divers but Amanda Bowens, Education and Outreach Manager for the Maritime Archaeology Trust, says there is more that can be done to explore sites such as these: “We’ve just completed a Heritage Lottery Funded development phase for a project looking at shipwrecks and sites along the South Coast associated with the First World War. This has shown tremendous public appetite for information about this often under-represented aspect of the conflict. A recent historic research session with volunteers at the National Archives in Kew proved really popular and we’re now looking to do more similar research with volunteers in Hampshire.
“Raising awareness of these largely hidden and forgotten sites is so important, especially in the run up to next August’s First World War centenary. We’re trying to encourage communities to get involved in our maritime heritage through active research of the sites and the human stories associated with them.”
The charity is seeking volunteers who live in Hampshire from now until the end of March 2014 to help research ships, wrecks and sites along the South Coast.
If you have an interest in our local history, and are willing to spare time to research from home or using local, regional or national archives, please contact the charity for details by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone on 02380 593290.
The Maritime Archaeology Trust