I TOOK A CLOSER LOOK at the cable while Tony had a rummage around. He pulled a shoe out of the debris. We took a few pictures, and swam towards the stern.
Top: Parts of the cable-laying machine. Above: Remains of the funnel.
About midships, we came across the remains of the kitchen or dining area, where I noticed some shards of porcelain. I examined one and couldn’t believe my eyes, as I saw an emblem and the name and date of the ship – really cool!
I swam back with Tony to the anchor-line, and as I still had plenty of bottom time left, I decided to get a better look at the exterior of the wreck.
Through breaks in the hull, artefacts were spilling out. In a large debris field I saw bottles, another piece of crockery with the ship’s crest and a whole row of portholes, glass still intact.
These were still solidly attached to the metal plate, which seemed to indicate that part of the upper decking had collapsed next to the wreck.
Then I came to the stern, and saw the rudder and the propellor. This is where I think the ship hit the mine, as there was a lot of damage to be seen.
I took some pictures and drifted back to the shot, where Eddie was starting his dive. We exchanged OK signs as I started my ascent for a little decompression.
Later Tony helped me into the RIB and we discussed our dive, and what a good choice it had been. Then Eddie returned with a big smile on his face, holding in his hand something quite strange.
He dekitted, carefully opened his hand – and out of his glove came a beautiful gold ring with a big green stone.
He had dropped into a hold, and had just stumbled on this beautiful piece of jewellery, which was of course declared to the Receiver of Wreck the following day.
A great day in the English Channel!
Back home, I set about finding out more about the history about the Monarch. In the process I came into contact with Bill Burns, owner and publisher of atlantic-cable.com, a website dedicated to the history of Atlantic cable and undersea communications, from the first submarine cable of 1850 to the worldwide fibre optic network.
Bill was able to give me good information and pictures of the Monarch, and I provided him with some underwater shots to be added to his website – great teamwork!