Launched on 9th April 1940.In May 1941, the Thistlegorm, with a crew of 39 men under the command of Captain William Ellis, left the port of Glasgow in Scotland and headed toward Alexandria in Egypt as part of a 16-ship convoy taking much-needed supplies to the British 8th Army stationed in Egypt and eastern Libya (at the time known as Cyrenaica). Prior to this voyage, the Thistlegorm had successfully completed three journeys (to the U.S., Argentina, and Antilles respectively) but this voyage would prove to be her last and final voyage.
By chance, during the night of 5th/6th October two German Heinkel HE 111 bombers spotted the convoy and targeted the Thistlegorm as she was the largest ship in the convoy. At 0:35 on the 6th of October, they attacked the ship dropping two 2-ton bombs on her fourth hold, near the engine room, and where the ammunition was stored. The explosion was powerful, and violent, exploding most of the munitions on board and one of the ship’s boilers. At 1:30, having been split in two, the Thistlegorm sank to the floor, finally coming to rest upright and, with the exception of the stern portion, on an even keel. HMS Carlisle, which was anchored next to the Thistlegorm, was able to save most of the crew but four crewmen and 5 Royal Navy Gunners (the youngest being only 17 years old) perished in the attack.
The wreck was rediscovered in 1974 after an Israeli diver was taken there by a local Bedouin fisherman, but news of the discovery was kept secret and only known to a closed circle of divers. In 1992, Roger Winter started taking the first tourists to the wreck and in the same year, an article was published in the Italian diver magazine Aqua, followed shortly by an article in the British diver magazine, Diver. With these two publications, the word was out about this amazing wreck laying at rest in the Red Sea and the SS Thistlegorm rapidly became one of the most famous and sought-after wrecks in the world.