Help write the history of the East Coast
The sea along the East Coast of England is the last undiscovered battleground of the First World War.
Here British, allied, and neutral merchant ships – protected by the Royal Navy – transported vital supplies such as food and coal. In the midst of battle, fishing fleets continued their vital work. All came under constant attack from the German warships and U-boats determined to crush Britain’s war effort.
What we already know
In May 1916 The German U Boat UC5 was engaged in mine-laying off the East Coast of Harwich when she went aground on the Ship-wash Sands.
As a result of this grounding she was captured and taken into Harwich, then onto London for public display on the Thames.
These British operations in the North Sea were supported on land by a complex infrastructure of coastal batteries and defences, wireless stations, airship and seaplane stations, port facilities and defensive booms across harbour entrances.
Hundreds of ships were sunk, especially merchant ships, fishing vessels and minor warships such as patrol vessels and minesweepers. Thousands of lives were lost in the sea battles, including seafarers of many nationalities.
There are over 500 known shipwrecks identified as being lost between 1914 and 1918. But a further 800 recorded losses that have yet to be identified on the seabed.
Many of these shipwrecks can be seen on the Home Front Legacy map of sites.
Help us to complete the picture
Historic England needs your help to document this largely forgotten four year campaign. Can you link a wreck to the shipyard where it was built or the port it sailed from? Do you know the names of crew members who served on lost vessels?
Or perhaps you are a diver who can provide detailed information on locations and current condition.
We are also looking for information on shore facilities and the roles buildings in our coastal towns played during the war.
How to get started
For further information about Historic England’s First World War projects go to our First World War web pages.
Read the publication about the East Coast War Channels. Wartime channels that kept the UK supplied
East Coast War Channels in the First and Second World Wars Published 30 April 2014
Read the guidance on our Home Front Legacy pages to see how your research on the East Coast can be added to our map using the Home Front Legacy App.
Details you add go automatically into the UK’s national and local archaeological records, where they will be used as a reference resource and to inform planning decisions and help safeguard First World War remains for future generations.