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Old 2nd Jan 2014, 21:32   #1 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
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PQ17

I've just been watching a programme on BBC2 about the Artic Convoys. By Jeremy Clarkson of BBC Top Gear fame.
Well done JC and BBC, a very good programme.
Concede this has little to do with this website.
Except as a good history lesson in operating ships without adequate air defence umbrella? Or the perils of being under military command?


Met a couple of DEMS gunners many years ago in Wallsend, old boys and decent brave humble men -RIP.
Anyone else see it care to comment?
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Old 2nd Jan 2014, 21:43   #2 (permalink)
 
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Yes, I saw it and it filled in a few gaps in the vague details I had from reading about it as a lad. You have to ask how a man with a brain tumour and exhausted from lack of restful sleep should have been left in the position of 1st Sea Lord to make such important decisions.

This is not a dig at the man himself but a criticism of those who were aware of his health problems, which were surely bound to affect those decisions and did nothing about it.
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Old 2nd Jan 2014, 21:50   #3 (permalink)
 
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Forgive my 1st post but the Russian convoys were brutal. I escorted some Veterans arround our replenisher some years back and one of the old boys asked to sit it out. He had a bad limp, told me the leg was amputated by a Russian surgeon at Polyarno without anaesthetic, calmly told me the Russ threatened him with a revolver to shut up his screams, the surgeon was angry but also exhausted. he was nineteen at the time. Truly horrible, beyond my capacity for thought to be honest.
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Old 2nd Jan 2014, 22:11   #4 (permalink)
 
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Must have been a tremendous,terrible strain for Pound. I mean those two months of the war July and August 1942 there is so much going on. Artic and PQ17 but one battle. Also Malta convoy with Pedestal. Atlantic convoy. North Africa and Rommel's so called Plan Orient*. German push toward the oil culminating in Stalingrad What we call the Far East and Guadalcanal (spell?) for the Americans. Dieppe raid. Frightful really. We were losing, everywhere.


*Not positive on plan name but did he not want to hook left up through Palestine and the Levant and link up with Army Group South?


So much going on. Sacrifice the Merchant men to save his cruisers and destroyers for another day?
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Old 2nd Jan 2014, 22:16   #5 (permalink)
 
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It was a remarkably good programme. Old JC (who wrote and presented it) has a good feel for such things. Not just a petrol head.
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Old 2nd Jan 2014, 22:18   #6 (permalink)
 
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I wonder what he will do next? RAFs Battle of Berlin? Dieppe Raid? If he wants to do another about unmitigated disasters.
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Old 2nd Jan 2014, 22:25   #7 (permalink)
 
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Or maybe he just wants to make good programmes about interesting and (in some places) little understood military historical events.
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Old 2nd Jan 2014, 22:38   #8 (permalink)
 
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Expect he may do more on the First War soon, what with the anniversary of it all this year. Max Hastings has a book out about the same, going to read it. I've tried to upload the pictures I took of the little known Merchant Navy memorial at South Shields and failed dismally, will try again tomorrow.
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Old 2nd Jan 2014, 22:41   #9 (permalink)
 
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PQ17

My late uncle was on the Minelayer HMS Menestheus with the 1st Minelayer Sqn at this time. As most of the Squadron were converted merchantmen, they were used as a decoy convoy for PQ17 and others. They were ordered to sail north of the Arctic Circle and hopefully draw off the enemy bombers. It wasn't a success as we know but at the time it was considered a one way ticket!!!
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Old 2nd Jan 2014, 22:52   #10 (permalink)
 
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When I was talking with him a few weeks ago, I told Jeremy how good people thought his programme on the St Nazaire raid was - and he hoped that we'd enjoy the PQ17 one just as much.

Well, personally I thought it was very good indeed. Thanks, JC!

Another fine programme he made was 'The Victoria Cross: For Valour'. In it, amongst other accounts, he described the heroism of Maj. Robert Cain during the Battle of Arnhem...

Cain was Jeremy's father-in-law; his wife was unaware of her father's VC until after he passed away, because it seems "He never thought to mention it"....
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Old 3rd Jan 2014, 02:13   #11 (permalink)
 
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Just this once.....Top Gear, JC, Russian Convoy......and the connection to things Aircrew is.....? Would not this be more appropriate elsewhere? As we don't talk about Women Infantry Marines....surely Top Gear and JC don't fit either.

Last edited by SASless; 3rd Jan 2014 at 02:23.
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Old 3rd Jan 2014, 04:11   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Just this once.....Top Gear, JC, Russian Convoy......and the connection to things Aircrew is.....?
Quote:
Another fine programme he made was 'The Victoria Cross: For Valour'. In it, amongst other accounts, he described the heroism of Maj. Robert Cain during the Battle of Arnhem...
There's the Military Aviation connection for you SASless

Arnhem was also of course the scene for Flt Lt David Lord's VC.
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Old 3rd Jan 2014, 07:48   #13 (permalink)
 
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Seconded that it was a (nother) good JC programme.


Keeping Pound in post does not reflect well on WSC. He was not even replaced as Chairman of the CoS Committee until March 1942.
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Old 3rd Jan 2014, 08:32   #14 (permalink)
 
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HMS Fencer's flight deck being cleared of snow during an Arctic convoy operation. Two Fairey Swordfish of 842 Naval Air Squadron aft on the flight deck:

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Old 3rd Jan 2014, 09:56   #15 (permalink)
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My father-in-law was on HMS Liverpool:

On 25 May, Liverpool began escorting PQ 16, a convoy of 35 merchant vessels bound for Murmansk, the largest convoy yet undertaken in support of the Soviet Union. PQ 16 had considerable protection, including the light and heavy cruisers Nigeria, Kent, and Norfolk, and numerous destroyers and submarines, with distant cover provided by the Home Fleet.[54] Inevitably, the convoy came under attack, beginning with a sortie on the 25th that damaged the freighter SS Carlton. Sustained attacks from U-boats and at least 242 German aircraft yielded a total of seven vessels sunk on the 26th and 27th.

Then:

HMS Liverpool returned to the Mediterranean in June to participate in Operation Harpoon, part of the Malta Convoys. While assigned to Force W covering convoy WS 19 on 14 June, Liverpool and the convoy came under attack by at least 38 Axis aircraft.

Just too few escorts stretched too far.
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Old 3rd Jan 2014, 10:36   #16 (permalink)
 
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After the experience of PQ17, 2 Squadrons of Hampden torpedo bombers were sent to Russia to counter the threat of Tirpitz against PQ18. My father was a pilot on 144 Sqn. One of the pilots of the other Squadron, 455, was shot down en route to Russia and subsequently shared a room at Stalag Luft III with my uncle. It is noteworthy that the PoWs took OpSec seriously and did not discuss anything related to service matters where Germans might overhear them, that my uncle found out that my father had flown ops as part of the same torpedo bomber wing as his room mate.

The Hampdens were subsequently handed over to the Russians and my father returned home by ship and 144 Sqn was reformed as as Torbeau Sqn.
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Old 3rd Jan 2014, 11:15   #17 (permalink)
 
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A really excellent programme and as has been stated, well presented by JC.
Amazing story re. the armed trawler leading the three American merchantmen through the ice.
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Old 3rd Jan 2014, 11:48   #18 (permalink)
 
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My late Grandfather sailed with HMS Suffolk on a Russian convoy. All he would ever say was "bl00dy awful time" and how they had to use steam hoses to clear the ice from the guns before they became top heavy. Nothing else would ever be said about that voyage.

He also took part in Norway (bombed off Narvik), Dakar (torpedoed) and Malta and Atlantic convoys with HMS Resolution.

Aviation link - "RAF.....never bl00dy saw them"
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Old 3rd Jan 2014, 12:11   #19 (permalink)
 
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As a sheer example of the tenacity of the crews of these ships, there is one story that I always come back to that of the brave Jervis Bay and her crew, read their story here and that of the crew that came to their rescue.

HMS "Jervis Bay":Convoy HX.84. 5th November 1940:Research by David Bews:Highland Archives

The tale of the San Demitrio in that link also beggars belief
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Old 3rd Jan 2014, 12:17   #20 (permalink)
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Nut, I read a book back in the early 50s which included the Jervis Bay. I don't recall the detail of the other stories except one covered the epic 107 days in a lifeboat.
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