Arctic convoy veterans to be honoured on Royal Yacht Britannia

Norman Nicholls receives his Ushakov Medal from Russian Consul General Andrey Pritsepov. Picture: Kimberley Powell
Norman Nicholls receives his Ushakov Medal from Russian Consul General Andrey Pritsepov. Picture: Kimberley Powell
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VETERANS of the Arctic convoys that helped supply the Soviet Union during the Second World War are to be honoured on board the Royal Yacht Britannia.

The Consulate General of the Russian Federation in Edinburgh will host the Arctic Convoy 75th Anniversary Commemoration in August – exactly 75 years after the first ships delivered vital supplies to the Russian ports of Murmansk and Archangel.

Many of them tell us they did nothing special – they were just ‘doing their duty’. But history shows us that by doing this they have written themselves a very proud page in our shared history.

Andrey Pritsepov

Under constant threat of attack by German U-boats and aircraft, the men of the Royal and Merchant navies also faced severe cold, storms, and ice. More than 3000 were killed on the 2500-mile route, described by Winston Churchill as “the worst journey in the world”.

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In Scotland there are currently 162 surviving members of the convoys, who will all be invited to the event on board the former Royal Yacht.

Andrey Pritsepov, Consul General of the Russian Federation in Edinburgh, who will lead the commemorations, said he hoped members of the Royal Family would attend. Others expected to be present include the Lord Provost and senior members of the current Royal and Merchant Navy in Scotland.

Mr Pritsepov said: “This is long overdue. We have a moral obligation to pay tribute to those brave men in a dignified and proper way. We would like the veterans to feel very proud of what they did. Many of them tell us they did nothing special – they were just ‘doing their duty’. But history shows us that by doing this they have written themselves a very proud page in our shared history.”

The Arctic convoys were assembled to provide essential supplies to Russian cities during the Second World War. Between 1941 and 1945, some 1400 merchant ships sailed to Russian ports, many from Loch Ewe, in Wester Ross.

Some 85 merchant ships and 16 Royal Navy warships were lost, with thousands on board.

Veterans have already been awarded the Ushakov Medal, one of Russia’s highest military honours, for their bravery.

newsen@edinburghnews.com