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Dedicated to the
South Wales Branch
of the
Russian Convoy Club

  RUSSIAN CONVOYS 1941-45, World War 1 and 2 background

by Gordon Smith

on to World War 1, A Maritime War



In June 2003, cruise ship MV Discovery, carrying a number of Russian Convoy veterans made a  'RETURN TO MURMANSK, A CRUISE BACK IN TIME", and I was fortunate to be invited as guest speaker. We sailed from Harwich for the Kola Inlet and Murmansk, visiting a variety of Norwegian ports both on the voyage out and back. The North Sea and the Norwegian coast had all played significant parts in both World Wars, and I took the opportunity to cover elements of the First World War, as well as the Norwegian Campaign in the Second as background to the Russian convoys themselves.

Showing how the campaigns of the Russian Front related to the ups and downs of the Russian convoys was an interesting challenge, before tackling some of the major convoy events - PQ.17, PQ.18, Battle of the Barents Sea and the sinking of Scharnhorst and Tirpitz. Finally, these same waters would have seen even more activity had the Cold War between the West and the then Soviet Union hutted up, and so a brief mention was made of what might have become World War 3! This then is the material I prepared.


Photographs are mainly courtesy of Steve Johnson of Cyberheritage (CH), Michael Pocock of Maritime Quest (MQ), David Page of  NavyPhotos (NP), Peter Swarbrick of Ships Pictures (SP),  US Naval Historical Centre (US) and their contributors. (Each image is acknowledged by the abbreviation for the main source and name of the individual contributor if appropriate). My thanks to all of them.

World War 1

1. A Maritime War, Major Naval Events in the North Sea  
  2. Ships to North Russia, and the North Russian Expeditionary Force 1919  

World War 2

3. 'Phoney War', Norwegian Campaign, British Empire 'Alone'  

Eastern Front and Russian Convoys

4. June 1941-October 1942  
  5. November 1942-May 1945  

Russian Convoys

6. September 1941-January 1942 including PQ1      
  7. February-June 1942 including Destruction of PQ17      
  8. June-September 1942 including Defence of PQ18      
  9. September-December 1942 including Battle of the Barents Sea     
  10. December 1942-December 1943 including Battle of North Cape     
  11. December 1943-November 1944 including Destruction of Tirpitz  
  12. Still 6 months to go, November 1944-May 1945  
POST-WAR IN NORTHERN WATERS 13. World War 3 in the same Region?  



on to World War 1, A Maritime War

revised  26/10/08