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Plea to veterans over Arctic Convoys project

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An appeal has gone out to veterans from a historian who is preparing a book on the Arctic Convoys of the Second World War.

Hugh Sebag-Montefiore is seeking accounts written or recorded by those who took part in the convoys, which sailed from the UK, Ireland and North America to deliver essential supplies to northern parts of the Soviet Union after Germany invaded in June 1941.

About 1,400 merchant ships sailed under escort from Royal Navy vessels and their Canadian and American counterparts, primarily to the ports of Archangel and Murmansk. Cargo on the convoys, which started in September that year, included tanks, fighter planes, fuel, ammunition, raw materials, and food.

The most direct route was by sea, around northern Norway, through a narrow funnel between the Arctic ice pack and German bases in Norway, and was very dangerous, especially in winter. Many of the convoys were attacked by German submarines, aircraft and warships.
The convoys played a big part in shaping the war, as Hitler was led to believe the British intended to invade Norway again. This, together with the obvious need to stop convoy supplies reaching the Soviet Union, caused him to direct that heavier ships be sent to Norway.

It has been said that the main value of the convoys was political, proving that the Allies were committed to helping the Soviet Union at a time when they were unable to open a second front. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had demanded help after the German invasion.
Mr Sebag-Montefiore plans to use only personal accounts written or recorded by a witness, accounts describing battles or convoys that resulted in ships being badly damaged or sunk, and accounts of what happened in Murmansk and Archangel, and the surrounding ports, when the convoy crews landed there.
He can be contacted at

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  1. Comment by Margaret Brown posted on

    These heroes should never be forgotten, My Uncle Owen Durkin from Glasgow was one of these brave men, He was lucky he came home ,

  2. Comment by Nick Young posted on

    I have already been contacted by the author.

    My father sailed as Second Officer in ss Harmatris in Convoy PQ8. On 17 January 1941 the ship was damaged by submarine torpedo off the Kola Inlet but was towed into Murmansk. The escorting destroyer HMS Matabele was torpedoed leaving only two survivors. It took seven months to repair Harmatris before she returned in Convoy QP14 which suffered repeated attacks and several losses.

  3. Comment by Ronib posted on

    I am <a href=">Ronib</a>

    This is a very nice article.

  4. Comment by Lyn Partridge posted on

    I have just found out that my cousin sailed on SS Harmatris in 1942 as
    a 15 year old.

    He was from Glasgow and returned in the QP14 convoy.

  5. Comment by Razibul Islam posted on

    I am <a href="">Ronib</a&gt;

    This is a very nice article.

  6. Comment by Patricia Vanderwolf (nee Ellis) posted on

    My Father survived the sinking of HMS Punjabi. He had a 48 hour pass from Scorland to Cornwall. Hence I was conceived and born Feb 1943 8 months after the tragedy


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