World War 2 ghost ship blown up by German mine can only be seen at low tide

An eerie 75-year-old shipwreck can be occasionally spotted in the water but only when the conditions are exactly right.

The rusted remains of SS Denham serves as a memorial to a terrible accident that killed all but one of her crew, almost a year after the World War 2 ended.

In 1946, the 103-ton survey vessel struck a German mine that was still hidden in the waters off New Brighton, Merseyside, despite the bay having been swept for such devices.

The devastating explosion tore the vessel apart on impact, killing eight members of the crew and left only one survivor who was thrown unconscious into the water by the force of the blast.

The boat had left Liverpool landing stage between 8am and 8.30am on the morning of July 18 to make a survey in Liverpool Bay and was returning to the city between 1pm and 2pm when the tragedy happened.

An inquest on page four of the Liverpool ECHO on August 12 the same year reveals the terrifying details of the explosion that killed nearly all the Denham's crew.

Leading seaman FC Whitby was the sole survivor, who appears to have escaped with his life by nothing more than being in the right place at the right time.

Still in "no fit state" to attend the inquest in person, a statement prepared by Mr Whitby was read out by Sergeant RJ Bebington of Liverpool City Police.

It read: "I heard what I thought was an explosion and a funny feeling came over me.

"I don't remember any more until I felt water running over me.

"I was at the steering wheel of the vessel.

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"After I felt the water running over me I seemed to come to my senses.

"I was covered in blood, and I swam a few yards to a lifebuoy and started to shout for help.

"I did not see anything of the remainder of the crew or the vessel."

A short while later, Mr Whitby was picked up by a boat and taken to Victoria Central Hospital in Wallasey.

His statement concluded: "I have no idea what happened."

The inquest found the German mine had lain undetected on the bed of the river after being dropped during an air raid.

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A crater was later found underneath the wrecked vessel containing fragments of the detonated mine.

Eight of the nine crew members, including its captain Malcolm Kennedy, were killed in the blast.

The inquest also reported a witness who upon hearing the boat had struck a mine, left Liverpool landing stage by motor boat to the stricken vessel.

On arrival he heard Mr Whitby had been rescued, and spotted the SS Denham "sunk in 18 feet of water just over a mile from St. Nicholas's Church, Wallasey".

The ECHO reporting from the inquest records his testimony, detailing what he saw that day: "The tide was ebbing and as soon as the wheelhouse was uncovered he boarded the wreck with a diver.

"After the tide had fallen further and they had removed a considerable amount of wreckage they recovered the body of ship's master, Kennedy, from the wheelhouse. He was found alongside the wheel.

"They searched the engine room and found Macdonald. The weather began to deteriorate, and they discontinued the search when all the bodies but those of Campbell, Roscoe, and Haldane had been found.

"They searched again on July 20, and these last three were found. He added that the Denham was so damaged as to be a total loss."

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