Red Cross Outrage – The sinking of British hospital ships during the First World War are judged crimes against humanity and trigger renewed hatred for Germany in the dying days of the war. According to sensational British propaganda of the time, the sinkings are a blatant flouting of the rules of warfare and introduce a new level of barbarism to an already cruel and vicious conflict.
The recent discovery of two of these hospital ships in the Bristol Channel is now dredging up the appalling memories of the time and new evidence that casts the German actions in a different light.
Sixty-five metres (215 feet) down in the middle of the Bristol Channel is the well preserved wreck of the Glenart Castle. A 6500 tonne liner, at the beginning of the First World War she has been requisitioned as a hospital ship. Under the conventions of warfare, she is supposedly immune from attack:
But on the night of February 26th 1918 as she travels down the Bristol Channel, fully illuminated, she is torpedoed. Sinking in only eight minutes she takes the captain and most of the crew with her. Only 22 men survive, 164 lives are lost. The sinking of the Glenart Castle is one of Britain’s greatest maritime disasters.
The Germans maintain that she and other hospital ships are legitimate targets as they claim it is the British who have broken the rules of war by using these ships to transport military material and troops. At this stage of the war no one believes them.
However dives on another hospital ship recently found only 10 miles from the Glenart Castle have revealed startling new evidence. The Rewa, is torpedoed a few weeks earlier on the 4tth January 1918 on a homeward bound journey laden with wounded soldiers. Miraculously most of the crew and passengers are safely evacuated, over 560 in number. Whatever else the 7000 tonne liner is carrying goes to the sea bottom never to be seen again.
Until now. The first dives find evidence that the Rewa might have been carrying cargo that under the conventions of war was technically illegal. As further dives scour the collapsed hull for more clues, on dry land, information comes into the hands of researchers that throws new light on these atrocities. The Germans may not have been the only ones breaking the rules.
Produced & Directed by
Director of Photography
Additional Underwater Photography
Original Music Composed by
Production Manager (UK)
Production Assistant (Canada)
Sound Design and Mix
Audio Post by
Wanted! Post Production
The Studio Upstairs
Graphics and Animation
The Studio Upstairs
On Line Editing
Creative Post Inc.
On Line Editor
Executive Producer for MSP
Executive Producer for ITV
Executive Producers for History Television
Executive Producer for ZDF
Eric Grove, University of Salford
Imperial War Museum
US National Archives
Beken of Cowes
U-boat Archive, Cuxhaven
With Special thanks to
Army Medical Services Museum
Firepower! – The Royal Artillery Museum
Institute of Naval Medicine
Royal Hospital Haslar
Royal Navy Historical Branch
Royal Victoria Country Park, Netley
UK Hydrographic Office
Phoenix Damage Repair Instructional Unit, HMS Excellent
Dennis Goodwin – First World War Veterans’ Association
Dr Aileen Adams
Chris Lowe – Atlantic Diver
Ilfracombe and North Devon Sub Aqua Club
Clifton Sub Aqua Club
Portsmouth Sub Aqua Club
Padstow Rowing Club
Waverley Excursion (MV Balmoral)
Dive Diseases Research Centre, Plymouth
Canadian Television Fund
Cavco (Tax Credits)
A United Kingdom-Canada co-production
Northern Sky Entertainment
Mallinson Sadler Productions
For more see www.deepwreckmysteries.co.uk