Red Sea at Sunset, site of the S.S. Thistlegorm wreck

 

I don’t know why, but I love WWII ghosts. I was raised on stories from the war, heroes and Nazis and entire platoons wiped out in a day—it was all larger than life, almost mythic. So when I wrote Fractured Tide, I created a fictional ship called the U.S.S. Andrews, torn apart by a torpedo in 1942.

I was inspired by stories like the S.S. Thistlegorm. Picture this: it’s 1941, and the world is in turmoil. In a late night patrol over the Red Sea, a German aircraft spots the S.S. Thistlegorm. The sailors below aren’t even serving on a combat ship; they’re just part of a supply vessel carrying trucks and machinery and explosives, all those very important things the British need in Northern Africa. The Germans drop a bomb that tears the Thistlegorm in half, causing an explosion so massive that one of the locomotives it was transporting flies almost 200 meters away. The S.S. Thistlegorm ends up at the bottom of the Red Sea, and nine souls depart to the next world.

 

SS Thistlegorm, car graveyard

It’s kind of a disconnect, the two realities of the Thistlegorm–ocean graveyard and playground for divers. Not all WWII wrecks are easy to reach, but the S.S. Thistlegorm lies between 50 and 90, so it’s a popular dive spot. The site is scattered with vehicles—upside down tanks, Morris cars, and motorcycles. Surrounding the wreck is all the detritus of war–random combat boots, spare machine parts, and guns. And if you’ve got the training and the guts, you can slip into the hull through the cargo hold and poke around the shadows.

Here’s the thing though. Divers have reported weird sounds coming from nowhere, specifically machinery running. Some have seen phantom figures in the deep. These reports sound a lot like what divers experienced at Truk Lagoon in Micronesia, so it makes you wonder…is this nitrogen narcosis, wishful thinking, or actual ghosts, reminding us that war, and all its memories, are closer than you think?