PQ-17 was one of the most disastrous naval episodes of WW2 for the allies. Naval intelligence led the British Admiralty to believe that German surface vessels, particularly the Tirpitz, were going to attack the large convoy PQ-17. It fell to First Sea Lord Admiral Dudley Pound to decide what action to take. He ordered the escort vessels to leave the convoy to pursue the supposed German threat, and he ordered the merchant ships to “scatter”. Each tried to make its way individually to Russia, but with no warships to protect them they were exposed to enemy air attack and vulnerable to U-boats. Of the 35 merchant vessels, 24 were sunk, prompting Winston Churchill to name the disaster “one of the most melancholy naval episodes in the whole of the war”.
PQ-17 is one of the more famous convoy missions owing to the terrible losses that resulted from the decision to scatter the ships. What is less well known is the female presence aboard Soviet tankers that took part in this ill-fated mission.
Learn about what happened to HMS Trinidad on PQ-13 in 1942. She faced not only incredibly rough weather but also enemy attack from U-boats, Narvik class destroyers, Junkers Ju 88 dive bombers and Dornier torpedo bombers. Yet it was the cold that was her undoing, as a malfunction with a gyro mechanism, probably due to freezing, caused one of her own torpedoes to arc and strike the ship. That wasn’t the end of the story, though.
Food on the Arctic Convoys: What did the sailors eat?
Life was tough on an Arctic Convoy. Food was one of the few things the sailors could look forward to amidst their normal duties, the constant threat of attack and the perilous weather conditions. But what did they eat? Was it tasty? How difficult was eating in rough seas?
Although allied air cover was limited during the convoys, particularly in the early years, the Fleet Air Arm provided torpedo bombers, fighters and reconnaissance planes that were important lines of defence against enemy U-boats and aircraft. The pilots had to fly most sorties in adverse weather conditions, which made landing on deck extremely challenging.
We have been privileged to work with the Russian Arctic Convoys Museum Project and to support it every endeavour since it was launched. It is important both for Russia and the United Kingdom to preserve memories of this most heroic page of our War time Alliance as a tribute to the Veterans and for the sake of future generations.
Andrey PritsepovConsul General of the Russian Federation in Edinburgh
What a wonderful setup. You are doing the memory of these brave men proud!
Andrew ChoongCurator, National Maritime Museum
Now I can envision what Dad talked about!
What an experience
This has been valuable for my research. Thank you.
VisitorWellington, New Zealand
Brings local history to life.
A wonderful and comprehensive display – many congratulations for keeping history alive.
Visitor Kent, UK
Tells the story well.
Very touched by the stories of all these brave men.
Thank you for bringing the history of both countries together. Спасибо огромное!
Fascinating to return to where my Dad was based in the Royal Navy.