AUGUST 20, 2014 – LONDON – 11 British veterans of the Arctic convoys, accompanied by their family members, the Mayor of Southwark and a team from ITV, will visit St. Petersburg in Russia from 29 August to 2 September for the unveiling ceremony of the memorial ‘IN MEMORY OF THE ARCTIC CONVOYS SAILORS 1941-1945’.
The names and years of birth of the British veterans who will visit St. Petersburg are: Frank Bond (1924), Edward Cordery (1923), John Crossman (1927), Ernest Davies (1925), Harry Grew (1922), Ernest Hall (1925), Frederick Jewett (1923), David Kennedy (1926), Anthony Snelling (1923), Frederick Udell (1925), Arthur Waddington (1921).
British veterans, members of The Russian Convoys Club and the HMS Belfast Association, were invited to St. Petersburg for the memorial unveiling ceremony by the regional Arctic Convoys Association represented by its President Commander Yuri Alexandrov, a Russian veteran of the Second World War.
The ceremony will be held on Sunday 31 August close to the Naval College of the State Maritime University of Admiral Makarov in Nevskaya Zastava.
The memorial is a dramatic set of three sculptures; Russian, British and American sailors, standing on the stem of a warship, symbolising the allied coalition of the three great nations in the years of their joint struggle against fascism.
The date, 31 August, also marks the 73rd anniversary of the arrival of the first Arctic convoy codenamed ‘Dervish’ in Arkhangelsk in 1941. On board, amongst many provisions, were the 24 ‘Hawker Hurricane’ fighter planes, which later defended the skies of Moscow.
During their stay in St. Petersburg the veterans will visit the Museum of ‘Krasin’ icebreaker, which was built by Sir W G Armstrong Whitworth & Co Ltd in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1917 and later took part in many of the Arctic Convoys. They will visit the Peter and Paul Fortress – the original citadel founded by Peter the Great in 1703, and the Piskaryovsky cemetery where veterans will pay their respects to the 500,000 victims of the Leningrad Siege. The Governor of St. Petersburg, Georgy Poltavchenko, will hold a special reception in honour of the veterans.
On the first day of the new school year, September the 1st, British veterans will visit schools to meet the children. The same evening, a special concert in honour of the veterans will take place at the Theatre of Musical Comedy. The theatre is renowned for its continued performances throughout the entire siege of Leningrad.
The organiser and the head of British delegation Eugene Kasevin said:
“For decades, the heroic pages of the Arctic Convoys history were veiled with ideological interpretations and innuendo. It is only now that they start to get a well-deserved recognition internationally.
The memorial in St. Petersburg, initiated by the Russian veterans, is a bold example of human devotion to the memories of joint victory and the lives lost in the name of victory over fascism.
The Second World War veterans are the last living witnesses to the most horrific war in human history. Their personal contributions to modern society are undeniable and deserve maximum respect and care from the younger generations.
I know that for the British veterans coming to Russia is like coming back to their second home – the home of their naval glory and the memories of their lost shipmates. We look forward to the moment of British and Russian heroes’ reunion in Russia 70 years later.
A very important part of this visit will be the veterans meeting with young school students, which will undoubtedly remain in the memories of the children for the rest of their lives.”
Between August 1941 and May 1945 from the anti-Hitler coalition to the Soviet Union and back there were 78 convoys, 1507 transport vessels and tankers (128 were sunk or damaged). The Arctic Convoys, escorted by the Royal Navy and other Allies to the USSR (Murmansk and Arkhangelsk) delivered: 22 195 airplanes; 13 900 tanks; 13 000 guns; 639 military vessels; 5 800 radios and microwave radar units; 570 000 motor vehicles and motorcycles; 132 000 guns; 99 merchant vessels (3 icebreaker); 472 million shells; 345 000 tons of explosives; 2 000 locomotives; 11 000 train cars and platforms; 2.7 million tons of fuel; 2 055 000 km of telephone cable; 842 000 tons of various chemical raw materials; 15 million pairs of soldier shoes; 3.8 million tires; food worth more than U.S. $ 2 billion. All of that was a significant part (approx. 12%) of the requirements for the front lines and inside the country.
The British delegation visit to St. Petersburg will take place with the support of British and Russian organisations: The Russia House Ltd. (UK), Lewin of Greenwich Organisation Ltd. (UK), Illuminating Life Foundation (UK), ‘Heroes Return’ British National Lottery Fund (UK), JSC Lenenergo (Russia), SETonline (Russia), VisaToHome (Russia).
Organisers: The Russia House Ltd. and Lewin of Greenwich Organisation Ltd.
Head of the British delegation.
Honorary member of The Russian Convoys Club (London).
The Russia House Ltd.