Arms for Russia

The Arctic Convoy Project

Since the late summer of 2016, Angus has been gathering material for his most ambitious book project yet - a history of the Arctic Convoys.

He began, not combing the archives, but speaking to veterans - men now in their 90's. Each one who passes away is a huge loss to their family and friends, but it also represents a blow to the historian too. Angus has now spoken to nearly 30 of these veterans now, who in their youth crewed the merchant ships, warships and aircraft that took part in this great naval enterprise.

Time though, is running out. that's why be began this way, interviewing this dwindling band of naval veterans, while they could still tell their story. Almost all of them are genuinely modest about what they did, and the conditions they endured. What they reveal though, is a world of detail which helps to flesh out the historical narrative.

As Angus put it; "I suspect a lot of authors can write a passable historical narrative, explaining what went on in times long past. What can transform this narrative though, is the opportunity these old sailors and airmen can provide, to uncover what really happened during the great maritime enterprise Churchill once described as "The Worst Journey in the World".

arctic convoy

The Murmansk Run : The Story of the Arctic Convoys

Angus' book, tentatively called The Murmansk Run is still very much "on the stocks". It's a long-term project, and as well as interviewing old veterans, Angus has also been conducting research in the archives, both in Britain and Germany.

The next stage is to actually visit some of the key locations which feature in the story - the Altafjord in the north of Norway, the waters off North Cape, Archangel, and above all the Russian port of Murmansk. For this Angus has solicited the help of the Russian Government, and hopes to visit these evocative places during 2018. He's already made a start, with visits to Loch Ewe, the Clyde Estuary, and of course Scapa Flow, the great wartime base of the Royal Navy.  Other trips are planned to the German U-Boat archives, to Icelandic and Norwegian museums, and to rarely-visited archives in Germany, Russia and the United States.

Compared to all this, the weaving of the tale into a compelling narrative is comparatively straightforward - and Angus has already started his first draft of several chapters of the book.

The Murmansk Run, or whatever the book ends up being called, will see the light of day - most probably in 2020. When it does appear in print, I hope it'll be worthy of the memory of all those young men and a few women who played their part in this gruelling battle played out in the inhospitable waters of the Arctic, where the enemy is as much the power of nature as it is the military might of the enemy.