Diving Into History

Wired for sound, John Nightingale dons face mask and scuba gear to retrieve the stories submerged in three extraordinary shipwrecks.

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Episodes

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01 OF 3The Wreck Of The Thistlegorm20040825

1941, and success for the Allies in the North African campaign is hanging in the balance. The SS Thistlegorm is riding at anchor in the Gulf of Suez, waiting to unload her precious cargo of munitions, armoured vehicles and railway engines. It's a bright moonlit night and two German long-range bombers are on the prowl.

02Trainers Galore!20040826

One night in March 1997 the container ship Cita was steaming westwards at full speed down the English Channel, bound for Belfast.

Unfortunately her crew were fast asleep and failed to turn right between Land's End and the Scilly Isles.

When the ship rammed into St Mary's, the islanders woke up to discover that Christmas had come all over again.

03 LASTThe Death Of The Duchess20040827

The Herzogin Cecilie was one of the last of the commercial tall ships, and one of the fastest ever to sail the seas. In April 1936 she was on route to Ipswich, her hold filled with 52,000 sacks of Australian grain. How she managed to crash into the north Devon coast, nine miles off course, remains one of the great mysteries of maritime history.

0101The Salcombe Gold Wreck20020112

John Nightingale dives to three extraordinary shipwrecks. 1: `The Salcombe Gold Wreck'. He tries to determine the origins of a 17th-century vessel found off the Devon coast.

0102The Wreck Of The Ramillies20020119

John Nightingale dives to three shipwrecks. 2: `The Wreck of the Ramillies'. In February 1760, HMS Ramillies set out from Plymouth, but was forced against cliffs by a gale.

0103Sinking The Maine20020126

John Nightingale dives to three shipwrecks. 3: `Sinking the Maine'. In March 1917, the SS Maine passes Dartmouth, unaware that German submarine UC-17 has her in its sights.

0201The Ss Thistlegorm 194120030920

Underwater shipwrecks frequently provide us with a rich vein of knowledge about our past. In this second series, John Nightingale dives down onto three wrecks to see what he can find, and talks to local experts, eye-witnesses, divers and historians who piece together the stories behind these time-capsules at the bottom of the sea. The SS Thistlegorm was loaded with supplies - ammunition, trucks, motorbikes, and two steam engines perched precariously on her deck. The freighter had made it all the way from Glasgow to the Red Sea, and was waiting at a supposedly safe anchorage before steaming up the Gulf of Suez to unload her precious yet deadly cargo. Meanwhile, two German Heinkel bombers were on the way back to their base in Crete with a full payload of bombs intended for the converted troop ship, the Queen Mary. John Nightingale investigates the last voyage of the Thistlegorm using descriptions from survivors, historical accounts and interviews with some of the hundreds of divers who flock to the site every year. In a radio first he also takes Radio Four listeners on a night dive down to the Thistlegorm's final resting place where the sunken remains provide a ship-shaped haven for nocturnal sea creatures.

0202Trainers Galore20030927

2/3. Trainers Galore. One night in March 1997, the container ship Cita was steaming westwards at full speed down the English Channel, bound for Belfast. Unfortunately, her crew were fast asleep and failed to turn right between Land's End and the Scilly Isles. When the ship rammed into St Mary's, the islanders woke up to discover that Christmas had come all over again. / One night in March 1997, the container ship Cita was steaming westwards at full speed down the English Channel, bound for Belfast. Unfortunately, her crew were fast asleep and failed to turn right between Land's End and the Scilly Isles. When the ship rammed into St Mary's, the islanders woke up to discover that Christmas had come all over again.

0203 LASTThe Death Of The Duchess20031004