Military tanks, ships, and aircraft in underwater cemeteries and graveyards.
The industrial might of the warring nations during World War Two were kept apart by the worlds most precious commodity. Water.
The vast, deep oceans of the planet ensured that Germany and Japan did not conqueror the world by allowing the allies to build up their defences and armies. The sea was the only obstacle at the beginning of the war that held the Axis powers at bay.
But freedom came at a price. Thousands of aircraft were shot down and lost in the vastness of the seas. Many ships came to rest on the ocean bed, taking human souls and military machines with them.
Landing craft spearheading beach invasions released their heavy military tanks hundreds of yards out to sea. The 55 ton tanks simply sank to the sea bed, taking their crew with them. Many of which are still there today, and give scuba divers a taste of the past.
The D-Day landings saw 156,000 troops landed in Normandy on the first day, of which 4,413 were killed.
The Duplex Drive Sherman Tank was designed to 'float' onto the beach heads to back up the troops.
The tank was a disaster on D-Day at Omaha Beach. The idea was to launch the tanks from a distance of two miles from the shore where they would then propel themselves to the beach invasion and assist the troops.
The 741st Tank Battalion launched 29 tanks off shore, only two made it to the beach. The other 27 sank, some instantly, taking their crews with them.
The canvass sides of the tanks were made to resist waves up to 1 foot in height. On D-Day at Omaha Beach, 6 foot tall waves swamped the tanks as they left the landing craft.
The underwater cemeteries off of the Normandy coast are a grave reminder of the human cost of war.
Most sunken tanks were on cargo ships and had never been in action. It is not known how many tanks are on the sea beds around the globe, but estimates have put the number at approximately 10,000.
Add that number to the amount of trucks, anti-tank guns, jeeps, and other military land vehicles that were also on the cargo ships, then the figure is amazing.
In virtually every country there are dive schools offering scenic tours to relics of World War Two. These tours are amazing. The graveyards provide a phenomenal insight into the manufacturing might of all nations.
Almost 800,000 aircraft of all descriptions were manufactured during the second World War by the warring nations.
The USA produced some 303,00 airplanes, Canada 16.400, the UK 131,000, Germany managed 120,000 and Japan 76,000, with the USSR manufacturing 158,000.
Although the majority of shot down or crashed planes were on the land, thousands were also lost at sea. During the few weeks leading up to D-Day, the RAF alone lost 2000 aircraft and 12,000 airmen.
Many of the planes which crashed into the sea hit the ocean with such a force that they either exploded or disintegrated on impact.
But hundreds of pilots managed to belly flop their aircraft onto the sea, and then jumped into the water, leaving their plane to sink virtually intact.
Airplane or aircraft cemeteries can provide some of the best diving experiences for enthusiasts of all ages.
Since the end of World War Two, 6 Hellcats and various other airplanes have been pulled out from Lake Michigan.
The lake has been described as the Americas largest underwater airplane cemetery.
As most airplanes were made with degradable materials and thinner metal, not many have survived the years of erosion by the tides. The English Channel has thousands of sunken planes in the murky depths, but most will disintegrate if disturbed.
Truk Lagoon has over 60 wartime ship wrecks which are all reachable by scuba divers.
This underwater wartime ship cemetery has many things to offer war enthusiasts.
There is also a vast amount of WWII aircraft laying on the sea bed within Truk Lagoon. Corsairs and Japanese Betty Bombers, as well as the occasional Zero.
Some of the military hardware in this Lagoon took part in the attacks on Midway and Pearl Harbour.
Other military hardware was destroyed before a single shot was fired from their guns.
Free Links To:
SS Richard Montgomery
The SS Richard Montgomery was a cargo ship which ran aground in the Thames estuary on 20th August 1944. As the tide receded, the ship broke its back.
The ships cargo was carrying 1400 tonnes of high explosive. After several weeks of trying to remove the explosives failed, the ship was abandoned and left to rot complete with her deadly cargo.
The ship still contains her deadly cargo today and was the first ship to be placed on the Maritime s danger list.
The fragile cargo could explode at any moment with enough force to be at least 5 times worse than the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima.
It cannot be moved for fear of setting off the explosives.
J Barry on January 08, 2019:
Dove Truk lagoon a few years back magnificent time would love to go back again just a long trip from Tewksbury Ma . I’ve been diving over 45 years inthe Atlantic ,Caribbean and all over the South Pacific Eight days on the Odyssey the best dive boat Organization I ever been on The captain and the crew were great .
J.Shugert on September 30, 2015:
I would love to hold one of the gun shells. Who to say that my dad may have touched it.
Ed Palumbo from Tualatin, OR on January 31, 2014:
I think diving in Truk lagoon or any other site would be like visiting an underwater shrine or monument. It would be difficult to view a wartime wreck without respect and awe for the forces that put it on the bottom and the troops of any combatant nation that went down with it. I appreciated this article and the photo support. Well done.
CJ Kelly from the PNW on January 09, 2014:
Awesome article. I would love to dive off Truk or near any of those Pacific battelfields. Voted up.