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Friday, 31 August, 2001, 04:18 GMT 05:18 UK
Veterans remember Arctic convoys
Thousands of servicemen lost their lives on the convoys
By Caroline Wyatt in Archangel

British and Russian war veterans are gathering in the Russian city of Archangel to mark the 60th anniversary of the so-called Arctic convoys.

Most were little more than teenagers when they came under heavy enemy fire

During World War II their ships undertook some of the most perilous missions, escorting supplies via the Arctic route to Russia to help the Red Army in the fight against Hitler on the Eastern front.

At least 3,000 British men and women died on the convoys.

As they stepped shore in Archangel, the British veterans were greeted as returning heroes.

Now in their 70s and 80s, many arrived on board the British frigate, the HMS Cambletown, retracing part of the route they sailed 60 years ago through the Barents Sea.

British and Russian veterans
The British veterans were greeted as heroes
Their bravery is remembered and respected by many here.

The British effort to help supply the Red Army during World War II was crucial in the battle against Hitler.

From 1941, despite appalling weather conditions, the men braved the Arctic Sea to deliver weapons and ammunition and other crucial supplies.

Most were little more than teenagers when they came under heavy enemy fire from the Luftwaffe and German U-boats.

Among the veterans attending the anniversary ceremony is Bill Short, who lost both legs to frostbite after waiting four days for rescue in the freezing waters after his ship was sunk.

He and his comrades will join Russian veterans to lay wreaths at the Eternal Flame by Archangel harbour.

Together they will remember the thousands of British men and women who perished in these waters in the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

The BBC's Caroline Wyatt
"Today is a chance to rekindle old friendships"
Petty Officer Tug Wilson
recalls the dangers he encountered during the arctic convoy
See also:

12 Nov 00 | Northern Ireland
Services remember war dead
09 May 00 | Europe
Putin hails Russian military
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