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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

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.

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

Historic England together with the Council for British Archaeology has developed a website and toolkit including a free downloadable app so that anyone can be a history detective. To find out how to research and upload your findings visit the WW1 Home Front Legacy website.

Details 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.

For further information about Historic England's First World War projects go to our First World War web pages.

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