Scottish Arctic convoy veterans honoured by Russia

Scottish veterans of the World War Two Arctic convoys are to be honoured by Russia.

Thirty veterans are to be presented with commemorative medals marking the 65th anniversary of the end of World War Two by the Russian Consul General at a ceremony in Edinburgh.

During the war the convoys – described by Winston Churchill as the most dangerous of the war – travelled to the ports of Archangel and Murmansk located on the Barents Sea in the north of Russia.

The convoys consisted of merchant vessels escorted by warships, and a total of four million tons of supplies and munitions were supplied to the USSR between 1941 – 1945.

The journey was a hazardous one, passing close to Nazi occupied Norway, which left them vulnerable to attack by U-boats, surface vessels and German aircraft. Many of these convoys departed from Scotland.

Conditions also made the journeys treacherous. In the summer months long hours of daylight left the convoys vulnerable to attack, and in winter months severe cold would take its toll.

In one convoy, 21 of the 34 merchant ships in the group were lost as a consequence of German attacks.

During the course of the war, a total of 2,800 seamen were lost in the Arctic convoys.

Those who served in the Arctic convoys were not awarded a seperate medal by the British government, but in 2005 an Arctic Emblem was introduced for those who served on the convoys following a campaign by veterans.

By John Kilbride
Original article here