Seventy years ago merchant ships with seamen as young as 16 set off from Clydeside, Liverpool, London, Bristol and Plymouth on a deadly and treacherous mission – to sail to the Russian ports of Archangel and Mirmansk to provide essential supplies of oil, arms and tanks to a beleaguered Soviet army, to help them in their crucial battle with the Nazis.
Now, as the Arctic Convoy 70th anniversary approaches, Yesterday pays tribute to those who put their lives on the line to aid those in the frozen east and to make the difference in a phase of World War II that tipped the balance of power.
Protected by Royal Navy destroyers and submarines, the convoy of ships still had to ward off German U-Boats, the Luftwaffe and sub-zero termparatures. One on five ships fell during the voyage, and over 5,000 seamen died.
There are now less than 100 survivors left from the Arcic Convoys and here they thell their extraordinary stories from one of the most audacious and courageous, yet unheralded, missions from the war.