As of May 2009, the National Record for the Historic Environment listed 861 known wrecks lost during the Second World War 1939-45. There are a further 49 wrecks recorded for the period 1946-1950.
The Second World War significantly influences the record of wrecks. Many of these records illustrate the changing use of vessels as a result of requisitioning. Requisitioning was when civilian vessels, such as fishing trawlers and yachts, were adapted for military use. Many of these were originally built in earlier periods demonstrating the longevity of some vessels. The development of aircraft and weapons such as mines is also documented.
Some vessels are better represented in the records that others. Recreational vessels, such as yachts, and cargo and transport vessels are well represented. In contrast passengers vessels are relatively rare. As expected, relatively large numbers of military vessel wrecks are recorded. The themes of industrial, law & government, commercial, agriculture and subsistence are less well represented by wrecks of this period. Newly discovered wrecks that illustrated these themes would likely be of special interest.