The Princess Royal visits Russia to join commemorations marking the 75th anniversary of the first Arctic Convoys. The Convoys supported the USSR, Britain’s Second World War ally, and played a critical role in securing victory over Nazism.
The first of the Arctic Convoys, codenamed ‘Dervish’, arrived in Arkhangelsk, Russia on 31 August 1941, during the Second World War. Running the blockade by the German Navy and avoiding perils such as mines and U-boats the convoys were essential to the supply of the Soviet Union and played a part in supplying Leningrad (present day St Petersburg) during the siege.
The Princess Royal, accompanied by Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, represented The Queen at commemorative events in Arkhangelsk. Between August 1941 and May 1945, around 1,400 merchant vessels escorted by ships of the Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy and US Navy made the journey. 85 merchant vessels and 16 Royal Navy ships were lost during the convoys and over 3,000 British servicemen and their allies died.
To this day the UK and Russia continue to honour the sacrifice of Royal Navy sailors and merchant seamen, including through the UK’s Arctic Star medal. Arctic Convoy veterans and The Band of HM Royal Marines will also participate in the commemorations.