Kendall McDonald, a former Fleet Street editor, has been diving (and writing about it) for more than 45 years. He has been DIVERs wreck expert since 1960.
Can you help me with any details about the wreck of a Boulton Paul Defiant fighter, found by divers on the bottom of the Moray Firth recently
Andrew Kirby

I seem to be getting more and more questions about aircraft. This is probably not part of a new trend in wreck-diving, unless perhaps Divers main feature last November aroused new interest!
The wreckage of all military aircraft of any nation is automatically protected without each plane having to be designated and named by the Secretary of State, as with ships. This is part of the 1986 Military Remains Act, under which 21 ships were recently made into either Controlled Sites or Protected Places. The former bans diving altogether unless a special licence is issued by the Ministry of Defence. A Protected Place is subject to a look but dont touch restriction.

The general coverage given to military aircraft is less severe. A diver commits an offence only by tampering with, damaging, moving, removing or unearthing remains, or entering an enclosed space. There is nothing to prevent you visiting an aircraft or examining its exterior.
The Boulton Paul Defiant was rated a failure as both a day- and night-fighter. Withdrawn from front-line service in 1940, most were used for gunnery training, with their four machine-guns mounted in the turret behind the pilot.
Seven Defiants, six from No 2 Gunnery School at Inverness and Dalcross and one from No 289 Squadron (Anti-Aircraft Co-operation), were lost in the sea between Inverness and Lossiemouth between 1941 and 1943. Nearly all are war graves.
First down was N3375, which crashed into Findhorn Bay, killing the Polish pilot and trainee gunner, on 9 December 1941.
The following year on 4 May, L7035 went down at Chanonry Point, Dalcross. The pilot was rescued but the gunner drowned. Both crew were killed when N3311 hit the sea four miles north-east of Burghead. And the crew of N1569 baled out after its engines failed off Inverness on 19 June, but only the pilot survived. This Defiant had already been shot down in the Battle of Britain over Kent, but had been repaired.
On 27 January 1943, N1749 ditched 75m off Nairn, and the crew came ashore in a dinghy. On 20 February L7029 went missing over Moray Firth. N3382 suffered engine failure five miles north of Lossiemouth on 14 March and went down with no trace of the crew.
Ross McNeill (07831 470956) can help you with more details.
Is the Mohegan past it  

Im just beginning to enjoy diving wrecks, so I want to ask, is the Mohegan on the Manacles still a good wreck dive Older wreckies tell me that its had its day and is not worth diving anymore.
Jim Brown

Older wreckies always talk like that. Of course shes broken up, but its still a most enjoyable wreck dive (see below).
Lost Hurworth  
Do you know if the wreck of HMS Hurworth, sunk in 1941, was ever found My uncle was in her and I have some photos of the crew and his letters. I told my mother I would try to find out more.
Andrew Moore

The 1025 ton HMS Hurworth was sunk later than you thought, in fact on 22 October 1943, when she hit a mine east of Kalymnos Island, which is just north of the bigger Greek island of Kos. Six officers and 127 ratings were killed.
I have no reports of the wreck being dived, but to check I suggest you ring the UK Hydrographic Office and ask the Wrecks Section if its records of the Hurworth show any diving. The number is 01823 337900.
Crested Eagle tragedy  
Have you any information about or pictures of the paddle-steamer Crested Eagle, sunk during the Dunkirk evacuation

The 1110 ton Crested Eagle was built in 1925 and was a well-known Thames paddle-steamer until taken over by the Royal Navy for use as a minesweeper.
On 29 May, 1940, while loaded with 600 troops during the evacuation of the British Army from Dunkirk, she was bombed by German aircraft and set on fire. Though run ashore, more than 300 of those aboard were killed, making this very much a war grave.
For pictures, try the Imperial War Museum in London (0207 4165000). It has a superb photo library.
Case histories  
Over the past few years I have reported finding seven types of brass and steel shellcases of various sizes. Which books might tell me their history
Andrew Musselwhite

For starters, I suggest you try The Armouries of the Tower of London, Volume 1 Ordnance, by H L Blackmore, published by HM Stationery Office in 1976, and Cannon by Austin C Carpenter, Halsgrove Press, Tiverton, Devon,1993. The Imperial War Museum Library will be able to help with other titles.
Lady of the lamp  
I have a ships electric lamp reported recovered from a Norwegian wreck in Lyme Bay. Does anyone know of a likely wreck By the size and quality, I believe it would have come from a reasonably modern vessel. The word AKTER is on it.
Ray Simms

Youre asking a bit much! Lyme Bay holds hundreds of wrecks, quite a few of them Norwegian. But what about the wrecks known to divers as the three ships in a line
Two are Norwegian, and all were sunk by German E-boats on 9 July 1942. They were part of convoy WP183, which lost six ships in that area, about 21 miles from Lyme Regis.
Bokn, at 50 21 97N; 02 58 90W, and Rosten, at 50 21 72N; 02 57 86W, were Norwegian colliers, both sunk at 54m. Most easterly ship is the Reggestroom, but she was a Dutch merchantman.
Burying the hatchet  
Have you heard anything about the finding of a Stone Age axe in the middle of a 17th century wreck Im told this is the oldest artefact ever found under the sea.
Jill Hardy

I think you are referring to Cape Town maritime archaeologist Bruno Werz, who was excavating a 17th century wreck in Table Bay and was astonished to find a Stone Age hand-axe lying in the sediment among the wreckage. Nearby were fossil rhinoceros bones and teeth. Later divers found two more hand-axes, dating from 300,000 to 1,400,000 BC. One, made of local quartzite, still had a very sharp edge.
Werz believes the axes were dropped by a hunting party when the sea level was lower and there was a river delta where Table Bay is now. The 17th century wreck dropped in later!
Unlucky 13 for P & O  
Do you know of any P&O liners sunk around the UK, other than the Medina, Moldavia, Salsette and Oceana

Are you going on a P&O liner dive-in If so, you could visit the following:
  • Ballarat I, torpedoed, sank seven miles off Lizard, 1917
  • Candia, torpedoed eight miles south of Owers Light Vessel, 1917
  • Harlington I, wrecked on West Sunk Sand, Clacton 2, 1914
  • Harlington II, mined near Shipwash Light Vessel off Harwich, 1916
  • Himalaya , bombed by German planes, Portland Harbour, 1940
  • Maloja, mined off Dover, 1916
  • Narrung, torpedoed Holyhead, 1917
  • Nepaul,(see photo above) wrecked on Shagstone, Plymouth, 1890
  • Oceanic, ran aground off Foula Island, Shetlands, 1914
  • Mark Lavington asks about U-480. If he contacts me at Wight Spirit Charters (02380 270390), I can help him with the position or put him on it. Dave Wendes.
  • You helped Ingrid Thomson about HMS Boadicea (January). She may like to contact Ian Hawkins of the HMS Boadicea Association (01449 781561). His father was captain when she sank. Nick Roberts
  • Kieron, a good Cornish wreck book is Dive South Cornwall by Richard Larn, from Underwater World (020 8943 4288).