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Maritime non-fiction / War history

Facts and figures about Arctic missions

Churchill's Arctic Convoys, by William Smith

book_cover_churchill's_arctic_convoys_web.jpgIt's always been known that Britain sent essential supplies to the USSR by sea during the Second World War, but for many years this was played down because Russia had turned from ally to enemy in the post-war years. So it's refreshing to see these missions branded 'Churchill's Arctic Convoys' in this new volume from Pen & Sword, emphasising that they had the stamp of approval from the revered wartime leader.

These were terrible voyages, as many Merchant Navy veterans have attested, with seafarers often having to spend all day and night chipping frozen seawater off the deck to stop the weight of the ice sinking the vessel.

This book, however, is not the place to hear powerful personal stories. What we do get is a blow-by-blow account of each convoy, with dates, destinations and what happened during U-boat and air attacks. The military escort ships are always named, but on the whole the merchant vessels are not, unless they were attacked and needed rescuing.

The work is enhanced by maps, photos, a bibliography and an index, and it's fine as far as it goes; it just feels like it's missing something from the Merchant Navy perspective.

Churchill's Arctic Convoys: Strength Triumphs Over Adversity
By William Smith
Pen & Sword, £25
978 13990 72298

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