Exhibition Operation North Sea 1944 - '45
Panic on the beach?
9 September 1959. It was a glorious summer’s day, not a cloud in the sky and the temperature was hovering over 25 degrees. But at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, beachgoers suddenly spotted a kilometre-high plume of smoke and heard the deafening sound of an explosion. Windows on the promenade shattered and the less fearless ran for their lives. Eight minutes later a tidal wave, a small tsunami, drenched the onlookers. Some believed an atomic bomb has exploded.
But the explosion was a planned operation. Five kilometres off the coast of Knokke a sunken ship was obstructing maritime traffic. The ship was called the SS Empire Blessing and had sunk during the Second World War. It had to be removed but its hull was chock-a-block with ammunition. Causing the ammunition to explode also meant that the wreck was no more.
Dozens of shipwrecks from the World War II are still lying under the sea surface off our coast. At Exhibition Operation North Sea 1944-’45, you can see the remnants of those wrecks and discover the stories of the ships and those on board who perished or were lucky enough to make it back to shore.