Page last updated at 12:11 GMT, Thursday, 18 September 2008 13:11 UK

Arctic veterans to gather at loch

Loch Ewe
Vessels sailed from Loch Ewe from 1942-44

Veterans of the World War II Arctic convoys are to gather near a loch in the Highlands from where ships made treacherous trips to Russia.

The Royal Navy and representatives from Russia and Norway have been invited to attend the tribute at Pool House in Wester Ross on 9 October.

Nearby Loch Ewe was a port for merchant ships carrying supplies to Archangel, Murmansk and the Kola Inlet.

Thousands died from exposure to sub-zero temperatures and attacks.

Winston Churchill called the Russian runs "the worst journey in the world".

With the passage of time veterans are few in number and it is a pleasure to hear so many will make the effort to come to Loch Ewe for this special event
Cmdr Charles Stevenson

Between 1941-45, ships also left the Clyde and ports in Iceland for the then Soviet Union. Sailings from Loch Ewe were made between 1942-44.

Crews and vessels were lost in attacks from German aircraft and u-boats.

Scottish veterans recently made their annual visit to a memorial to the Loch Ewe convoys, but some hope to make the journey to Wester Ross for October's event.

Co-incidentally, it will come at the time of Exercise Joint Warrior, a naval exercise that is held of the Scottish coast.

Cmdr Charles Stevenson, naval regional officer for Scotland and Northern Ireland, said he was honoured to have been invited to represent the Royal Navy.

He said: "Men of the convoys faced incredibly harsh conditions and constant danger and we are indebted to them for their bravery and fortitude.

"With the passage of time veterans are few in number and it is a pleasure to hear so many will make the effort to come to Loch Ewe for this special event."

Pool House - now a hotel - was used as a command centre for vessels leaving Loch Ewe.

'Grinding halt'

Proprietor Elizabeth Miles, who has been helping to organise the event, said handfuls of veterans have visited the area over the years, but said old age and ill health had taken its toll on those who survived the convoys.

She added: "We have been seeing the veterans for years. They have come here two or three at a time, but their numbers are coming to a grinding halt.

"Some of their stories are horrific."

Recognition of those who served on the convoys, which came under attack from German aircraft and submarines, has been controversial.

Veterans have long campaigned for their part to be recognised.

In 2006, the first of them received a special UK award to mark their bravery. Arctic Emblems were presented in ceremonies on HMS Belfast, in London, and HMS Ark Royal, in Rosyth, Fife.

The Russian consulate in Edinburgh could not be reached for comment.


SEE ALSO

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific