OVER THE COURSE of the project, the IPSAC team have not only revealed the buried history of the exercise but also uncovered the stories of the men who sacrificed their lives, and commemorated their memory by reinvigorating their enthusiasm for purposeful diving.
For this reason, the Valentine Tank 75 Project has received the Adopt a Wreck Award from the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS).
“Winning the Adopt a Wreck Award is a real validation of the hard work and effort club-members have put into the project,” says Reed. “Taking part has been a real joy and has given the club so much. Finding out new things is addictive, and you want to go on and find out more.”
“As the NAS motto says, discovery is just the beginning.” He accepted the award alongside fellow IPSAC member Keith Coombs at the NAS “Building a Future for Our Maritime Past” annual conference in Newport at the end of 2018.
One of the tanks deploying from a landing craft.
The Adopt a Wreck award is made each year to the person or group that has made the most significant contribution to archaeology and research through the NAS scheme. It is designed to encourage dive-clubs and the public to be active in recording the sites they enjoy visiting.
While it’s most common for clubs to adopt shipwrecks, other types of wreck such as planes, tanks or maritime infrastructure can be adopted. And the sea really isn’t the limit, because on land there is a range of harbour works and buildings with nautical connections, coastal habitations, hulks and other material of archaeological interest that could qualify.
In 2018, the NAS awarded a Highly Commended award to Ed Cumming for his Waifs of the Sea project. Although no longer a diver, Cumming created an extensive index of shipwrecks, ship incidents and vessel losses recorded in the British press from the 19th century, offering new insight into the fate of the many wrecks around the UK, and aiding ship incident research across the British Isles.
Cumming described the award as very unexpected in light of its Adopt a Wreck title. “This I had certainly not done, but I convinced myself that I had in fact adopted several thousand,” he says.
Since the scheme’s launch in 2003, clubs and individuals all around the UK have adopted sites. Paul Barnett, Chairman of the Friends of Purton, claimed the award in 2007 and says that receiving it for work on the Purton Hulks “remains a very fond memory, which I look on as a major stepping-stone in the long journey to the site’s formal recognition as one of national importance”.
In 2015 the calibre of applications was so high that two winners were announced. Nigel Braybrooke (right), Project Co-ordinator for Severnside Sub-Aqua Club, had been diving the wreck of WWI cargo ship the Baygitano and wanted to “bring the Baggy to life”.
“The highlight was being asked to present our project findings in front of the society’s President Dr Phil Harding and our NAS peers,” said Braybrooke. “Our winning of the award has encouraged other clubs to start their own projects, and will help continue the recording of our maritime heritage before it disappears.”