Sally Evans from MSDS Marine, and volunteers Elizabeth Dooley and Christian Dalton survey the wreck of the WWII B17 Bomber on the Sandwich Foreshore. 

To the locals of Sandwich in Kent the collection of shipwrecks scattered along the coastline are renowned, as they disappear and reappear with each low tide. Although there are many stories and theories surrounding these wrecks, very little is known about their history. But for over a year, the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) and MSDS Marine have been working with volunteers to change that.

Over the weekend of 28-29th of September, a group of locals and volunteers took part in the NAS and MSDS Marine’s biannual survey to Sandwich, to continue the investigation into the wrecks on the foreshore. This is their fourth visit to the foreshore, and with the data being collected each time they have built up a map pinpointing the exact location of the wrecks thanks to GPS mapping.

Peta Knott, Education Officer for the NAS said “We have been coming to Sandwich for the last eighteen months, and were slowly beginning to build up a picture of the layout and the position of the wrecks. What we are missing is their story”

One of the volunteers in the group, surveyor John Hemingway, believes he has found an identity for one of the unknown wrecks. After carrying out some research using archived material via the Lloyds List and the National Newspaper Archives, John hopes to have identified one of the wrecks as the Juno.

Project volunteer John Hemingway conducting a Total Station survey on one of the Sandwich Bay Wrecks.

The Juno, is believed to be a sailing vessel that sank in late 1812. It is documented to have been an armed merchant ship that traded between Britain and the Mediterranean, which left Gravesend in late October, and was bound for Senegal in West Africa. Though she was due to pick up passengers in Portsmouth, the Juno never reached her destination, as she was wrecked on the beach in an autumnal storm.

Though the team spent the weekend trying to locate her position amongst the other wrecks, the Juno remains elusive. There are over fourteen wrecks scattered along the foreshore at Sandwich Flats, including a B17 bomber from WWII.

MSDS Marine Project Manager, Sally Evans said, “What’s surprising is that although many people know they are there, there seems to be very little information about what they are and how old they are. Our aim for this project, is to discover as much about their history as possible, and allow the Kent locals to learn more about the heritage on their doorstep"

The project team after a busy morning of surveying wrecks on the Sandwich Foreshore

Peta continued, “John’s research has encouraged us to return in November and we would welcome new members to join our investigations. If anyone is interested in joining us, they should get in touch. We’d also love to hear about any stories, pictures or documents that people have about this amazing collection of historic vessels.”

Local volunteer, Tony Ovenden, added, “These wrecks are a fascinating piece of local history. Every tide either reveals or covers aspects of these wrecks. If you ask ten local people to tell you about the wrecks you’ll probably get ten different stories. It would be lovely to piece together their actual history before they are lost to the ravages of time and tide.”

If you have any information about the wrecks, or any photographs, please send them to [email protected]. You can learn more about the Sandwich Flats Fieldwork on the NAS Website here. Or watch the video from our fieldwork in February on YouTube here.


Nautical Archaeology Society

The Nautical Archaeology Society is an international charity that has been engaging members of the public in the awareness of the world’s nautical heritage through education, training, research and publication since 1986. We aim to involve everyone in our mission to Protect, Record and Research all forms of nautical heritage, whilst maintaining the highest ethical standards. We strongly believe that now, more than ever, there is a need to preserve nautical heritage in the UK and the world due to reduced government funding, and increased threats to our heritage from both natural and human actions.


MSDS Marine

MSDS Marine are a leading Marine and Coastal Contractor specialising in the management, execution and support of archaeological projects in the marine environment. MSDS Marine have a wide range of experience and expertise within the industry from the project management of large-scale underwater excavations through to the fulfilment of archaeological licence conditions prior to large infrastructure developments. MSDS Marine provide geophysical and hydrographic services including data collection, processing, visualisation and interpretation. MSDS Marine are committed to creating hands on experience in the sector for students, volunteers and early career professionals and promoting public engagement with our work. Visit our website to find out more.