PQ17: An Arctic Convoy Disaster

#21
It's worth considering that this was significant enough to be remembered etc. which indicates how good the RN was at running convoys, because it's one of a small number of significant errors.
Considering we ran convoys to N Russia from the autumn of 1941 until VE-Day (the last return convoy came back not long after) just the one hammering is remarkable in itself. But the Arctic Convoys couldn't compete with the Persian route for the quantity of supplies.
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#22
How did the supplies sent through Persia get to Persia in the first place might I ask and who brought them?

The Merch recognition problem - I very much doubt there is any central record of who went where, when. A Merch Continuous Discharge book will only show the ports of embarkation and discharge.
 

Helm

MIA
Book Reviewer
#23
I leave the final word to a Royal Navy Officer serving onboard HMS Norfolk at the time: “At 26 knots the four cruisers and all the destroyers swept close past the convoy. Our last sight of the merchantmen showed them slowly opening out and separating. The effect on the ships company was devastating. Twenty-four hours earlier there had been only one thought—that at last we were going to bring enemy surface ships to action. I had never known the men in such good heart…Then in the space of a few hours we abandoned our aircraft (which had just been flown off to reconnoitre to the east) and its crew, and we abandoned the convoy. The ship was in turmoil: everyone was boiling, and the Master at Arms told me he had never known such strong feelings before…It was the blackest day we ever knew—sheer bloody murder.”
Can't imagine how bad those blokes must have felt doing that, sheer bloody murder about sums it up.
 
#24
Considering we ran convoys to N Russia from the autumn of 1941 until VE-Day (the last return convoy came back not long after) just the one hammering is remarkable in itself. But the Arctic Convoys couldn't compete with the Persian route for the quantity of supplies.
I understand that the value of the Arctic Convoys was in the time-critical factor. E.g. arms and materials could go more or less straight from British factories (or from Atlantic convoys) into the Soviet rear combat zone (Archangelsk and Murmansk being existing military ports connected to Leningrad), whereas the Persian route involved the long run of the Med/Suez or the Cape, or the Pacific Indian oceans, and entered the Soviet Union through regions that were relative logistical backwaters at the time.
 
#27
I'd recommend HMS Ulysses by Alistair McLean as a book that would give a feel for what it must have been like to live through PQ17 on an escort ship. Still have my first tired battered old copy from about 1970. McLean wrote some fine books but this was his first published work and drew on his experiences from the war when he was a torpedo operator on HMS Royalist on a couple of Arctic convoys. His novel describes a single convoy limping to Murmansk and cut to pieces by the Wolf packs and although his work is a novel therea's a touch of Convoy PQ-17 about it in the way that infamous convoy was beaten up all the way to Russia
 
#28
I understand that the value of the Arctic Convoys was in the time-critical factor. E.g. arms and materials could go more or less straight from British factories (or from Atlantic convoys) into the Soviet rear combat zone (Archangelsk and Murmansk being existing military ports connected to Leningrad), whereas the Persian route involved the long run of the Med/Suez or the Cape, or the Pacific Indian oceans, and entered the Soviet Union through regions that were relative logistical backwaters at the time.
Most of the stuff that reached the Russkies, despite the efforts of British factories to help Uncle Joe, was from the US. From where most of it travelled via the Pacific (in Russkie ships) or Persia. The Arctic route was used for both UK and US goods but was interrupted for large parts of the year because the nights were too short for convoy work.
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#29
Fortunately my cousin lived just long enough to collect his Arctic Star and his Ushakov medal (for service in HMS Blankney). Lots didn't.

I put him up for the Legion d'Honneur (for getting sunk on D+2 in HMS Lawford) behind his back because I knew he was too modest to do it himself and if I had told him I was doing it he'd have told me off. But he was quite pleased in the end!
 
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#32
It is.
Excellent show.
Clarkson being serious, and not playing to the crowd.

AND as they are reshowing it, it means that prize bellend Irving lost his case! Whoopee!

Jeremy Clarkson's BBC show in battle with Nazi historian
Do you mean the pro-Nazi polemicist, historical falsifier, Holocaust denier, anti-Semite, racist, neo-fascist, convicted felon, and writer David Irving. A man as despicable as the Nazi criminals he eulogises

I think they must have reached an out of court agreement as there is no mention of this case after 2014, or it was dismissed.

In his book on PQ17 Nazi-boy libelled John Broome DSC and ended up paying £40k in damages (which Broome donated to charity). A reflection of the judges contempt for Fanboi might lie in the fact that this was the largest libel payout ever in the UK.

Who says the law is an ass?
 
#33
In his book on PQ17 Nazi-boy libelled John Broome DSC and ended up paying £40k in damages (which Broome donated to charity). A reflection of the judges contempt for Fanboi might lie in the fact that this was the largest libel payout ever in the UK.

Who says the law is an ass?
Shame there isn't a thread about that movie Denial, starring Timothy Spall and Rachel Weisz, isn't it?
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
#34
The int. was already there as was shown last night. There was little or no radio traffic and the Norwegian resistance hadn't reported the largest battleship afloat missing! Unfortunately this was ignored and the fleet was ordered to scatter and the escorts ordered home.
As usual with nearly all military disasters, it was a combination of bad luck and most of all human error.
The evidence on the Tirpitz's location was inconclusive, but such Ultra evidence was there was suggested she wasn't at sea. There was no indication U-boats were being warned she was out for example.

The ultimate decision rested with the First Sea Lord (Pound) who was already seriously ill. He ignored the advice of his advisers to that effect and originated the infamous 'convoy is to scatter' signal.

Churchill tried to find out who authorised the signal. The Admiralty stonewalled - presumably to protect Pound.

Wordsmith
 
#36
The sense I had from the time was that Pound was a desperately tired and ill man in the last days of his life, who took a fatally flawed decision that the RNs culture of loyalty over loyal dissent meant it was not questioned. A very sad state of affairs.
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
#37
The sense I had from the time was that Pound was a desperately tired and ill man in the last days of his life, who took a fatally flawed decision that the RNs culture of loyalty over loyal dissent meant it was not questioned. A very sad state of affairs.
You'd also have to add into the equation that Pound was extremely poor at delegating and as a result grossly overworked. So as well as Pound's illness, you'd have to consider how much mental fatigue played a part in his decision.

Portal (Chief of the Air Staff) was the reverse. He's on record as saying "I have a first class staff and I'm prepared to work them to death and get another one if that helps win the war". Cunningham, Pound's successor, also used his staff very effectively.

Wordsmith
 
#38
I'd recommend HMS Ulysses by Alistair McLean as a book that would give a feel for what it must have been like to live through PQ17 on an escort ship. Still have my first tired battered old copy from about 1970. McLean wrote some fine books but this was his first published work and drew on his experiences from the war when he was a torpedo operator on HMS Royalist on a couple of Arctic convoys. His novel describes a single convoy limping to Murmansk and cut to pieces by the Wolf packs and although his work is a novel therea's a touch of Convoy PQ-17 about it in the way that infamous convoy was beaten up all the way to Russia
I read HMS Ulysses but found it hard going (I know it's not meant to be a comedy). On a similar vein is JPW Mallalieu's largely autobiographical novel"Very Ordinary Seaman" which follows a class of RN recruits through training into the fleet, mostly destroyers. They do a Russian run & it's vividly described. Mallalieu wrote it in 1944 when he returned from Russian escort duty.
 
#39
what book and author, please?
The pic isn't showing.
Always pleased to promote the book DESTROYER CAPTAIN by RODGER HILL.
A very honest account of an RN captain during ww2. He has no qualms about showing his faults instead of emphasizing others cock ups.
By the way anyone interested in submarine warfare in ww2 should read One of our submarines by Edward young.
Fighting Destroyer the story of HMS Petard by G.G.Connell is another good read that lets you into the day to day business of waging war at sea. One thing that strikes me about all the above books is that they appear timeless in so much as the people in desperate situations are not so much different than the same people today. I hope.
 
#40
Sad that they got more recognition from the Russians then they get from their own.
But the Russians do the decent thing and more, the kids in Murmansk & Archangel go to the graves as part of their history lessons and help keep them nice and tidy, same as the Dutch kids with the Para graves in Arnhem and other places.
 

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