A WREATH has been laid at the site of the wreck of a hospital ship that was torpedoed by a German U Boat 100 years ago.

The Kyarra was attacked a mile south of Anvil Point, off Swanage, on the morning of May 26, 1918.

The ship sank quickly with the loss of six lives. However, it had been on its way to Plymouth to transfer 1,000 injured Australian servicemen back home, so the losses could have been significantly higher.

Today the wreck is one of the most popular dive sites in UK waters, so to commemorate the sinking the oldest dive school in England - Divers Down - got together with the Isle of Purbeck Sub Aqua Club (IPSAC) to lay a wreath on the wreck.

Pat Collins, co-owner of Divers Down and secretary of the Friends of Swanage Pier, said: "The Kyarra is one of the most iconic wrecks on the south coast.

"She is still largely intact and is clearly recognizable as a ship. Divers use our boats to visit the wreck throughout the summer and we felt it was important to mark the 100th anniversary of her sinking by remembering the six men who died on that May morning in 1918.

"The Kyarra can only be dived at certain states of the tides due to the fast currents so we are lucky that we will be able to dive the wreck within an hour of the actual sinking time."

In November 1914 the Kyarra, which was luanchedon the River Clyde in 1903, was requisitioned in Brisbane and converted into a hospital ship. In March 1915, Kyarra was converted into a troop ship, helping to land Anzac troops in the Dardanelles.

Then, in 1917 she became a casualty clearing ship and had a 4.7 inch quick-firing gun mounted on her stern as a defence against U-boats.

She was sunk by UB-57, under the command of Oberleutnant Johannes Lohs, who would go onto sink 76 ships before being killed when his U-boat was believed to have hit a mine.

The Kyarra lay undiscovered on the sea bed until she was found by two divers from Kingston Sub Aqua Club, in 1966. A year later the club bought the ship for £120, though not the mixed cargo, valued at £1500 when she sank.

Pete Williams, owner of Divers Down and skipper of dive boat Spike said: "I must have dived the wreck hundreds of times over the years but she is still revealing her secrets. Every dive is different. Exploring the wreck is something I never get tired of, but always in the back of your mind you are conscious that this is the last resting place of six men."