The fourteen members who attended the lunch meeting today would have been more than just entertained by speaker Chris King, past Chairman of the Russian Convoy Club.
Chris’s talk about his real life experiences when he sailed on a corvette (HMS Bluebell) protecting merchant ship convoys from the UK to the north Russian ports of Murmansk and Archangel was a tale of fortitude and endurance under extreme weather conditions in very primitive shipboard surroundings.
The ships carrying war materiel to Russian allies, were formed into convoys to make, according to Winston Churchill, “ the worst journey in the world “.
Supporting pictures clearly illustrated how protection was given to the merchant ships by the surrounding warships. The effect of sub-zero temperatures in covering vessels superstructures with ever thickening ice. The exposure of those in these prevailing weather conditions having to navigate in open bridges. The weather was constantly atrocious.
There were constant aircraft and U Boat attacks from bases in occupied Norway. Dependent on the time of year and the ice-line the convoy went north or south of Iceland and Bear Island. Inevitably the loss of lives and vessels bore heavily on the minds of those who survived this lesser publicized campaign.
It was interesting to hear how, depending on the destination port, how seafarers were received by the locals. In Murmansk a suspicious reception contrasted with the very welcome reaction experienced in Archangel.
Chris’s talk was delivered expertly and at times with emotion. The voyage after he left her “Bluebell” was sunk.
In a world where superlative adjectives are slowly being devalued, at over 96 years old Chris represents as we know it, a man of awesome experience and a real legend.
At a committee meeting held after to-days gathering it was confirmed that our end of year Christmas Lunch will be held at the Bolton on Wednesday 14th November.
Wives, partners and friends all welcome. Further details will be circulated later this month.