This documentary will be aired in December 2011.
DEEP WRECK MYSTERIES I | FATAL DECISION
Who or what sank the Canadian corvette, HMCS Regina? Was it a German secret weapon or a British mine? And was the captain guilty of gross negligence? Sixty years later a bitter controversy still rages; why did 30 men have to die?
In a remote churchyard in deepest rural Cornwall are the headstones of three Canadian sailors. Buried in the latter stages of the 2nd Word War, they are from HMCS Regina, a Canadian corvette. Her story is one of confusion and of bravery, But now with the discovery of her wreckage on the seabed there is an opportunity to clear up this wartime mystery.
In August 1944, the Regina, is the sole escort for a convoy of ten merchantmen steaming down the north coast of Cornwall bound for a beach head on the Normandy coast. It is a fine evening, unusually clear, and the sea is calm with a slight swell.
Suddenly there is a heavy explosion in the third ship of the starboard column, the American merchantman Ezra Weston. In spite of her best efforts to save herself she is doomed and the Regina orders her to be evacuated. During the transfer of the crew, the captain of the Regina makes a decision which is to have far reaching consequences. Stopping her engines, the warship hoves to some 300 yards away from the sinking freighter.
Without warning, the Regina is blown apart and disappears in a great plume of water and spray. Within thirty seconds there is nothing left to show that she has been there except for men and debris floating on the surface. Thirty of her men die, most going down with the ship. Shortly afterwards the Ezra Weston’s back breaks and she joins the Regina on the seabed.
Have both ships run into rogue mines or are they the victim of an unsuspected submarine? Whatever the cause, at a subsequent board of enquiry the captain of Regina is heavily criticised for placing his ship in unnecessary danger, little consolation to the thirty men who went down with the ship.
Today the two vessels lie hidden deep below the surface, together with unanswered questions …and bitter controversy. For the first time, the latest techniques in diving unlock the full story of what occurred and unmask the heroes and villains of that fateful night.