The Volnay was a ship of around 4600 tons, homeward bound from Canada, with a mixed cargo and much needed ammunition for the troops fighting the Great War in France. On 14th December 1917 she either hit a mine or was torpedoed and decided to head for the shallow waters of Falmouth Bay. Taking on water, she eventually sank in around 20 meters of water on a sandy bottom. Locals were quick to salvage any of the cargo washed ashore including perfume and tinned foodstuffs, all of which was in short supply at the time.
The wreck is now well broken up, possibly due to later explosions caused by the munitions it was carrying. There are though still some very large pieces remaining, including two massive boilers, which have a coating of deadmens fingers and provide a good home for spotted wrasse. Away from the boilers, jumbled piles of deck plates lay scattered on the sea bed. Most of the ammunition from the Volnay was salvaged, but as the wreck has broken up over the years more has come to light. Divers are warned not to touch anything that looks like ammunition, including brass detonators that may by hidden in the silty sand that covers much of the site. Despite this, the wreck is safe to dive on, being protected from SW winds by high cliffs and not susceptible to tidal changes.