Sunday, November 13, 2011

Convoys I.

This is coolbert:

Arctic convoys - - decision.

Here begins a series of blog entries regarding those arctic convoys of the Second World War [WW2]. Allied merchant marine vessels carrying vital war munitions to the Soviet ports of Murmansk and Archangel.

Extracts from the book by Patrick Beesly: "Very Special Intelligence" with of course my comments.

Those convoys fraught with great danger from that combination of the inclement elements and German attack.  A gauntlet of attack from German submarines, aircraft, and surface capital ships of the Tirpitz variety.

Convoys the route of which, most dangerous, was the result of a decision predominantly political in nature on the part of Joseph Stalin. Allied military planners preferring other routes for the shipment of war munitions to the Soviet Union, the communist dictator insisting otherwise and being assuaged, danger and peril to those allied naval personnel and merchant marine sailors not a consideration!

"The decision to send supplies to Russian by the Northern route was a political one, dictated by Stalin's unwillingness to allow any extension of British influence in North Persia, which he feared would be the result if this longer but as was eventually proved far easier and more efficient route, had been used from the outset. The sea route to Murmansk and Archangel in North Russia was, from a naval point of view, completely unsound. Climatically the conditions sere appalling, quite the worst to be endured at any time by any regular succession of convoys anywhere: ferocious gales, ice, fog and for six months of the year, almost perpetual darkness. The chances of crews of sunken ships surviving were minimal. In summer the perpetual night of winter was succeeded by perpetual day; which if slightly better in one respect, meant that there would be no respite from enemy attack."

The Persian Corridor, "far easier and more efficient", and much to be preferred, LONGER and SLOWER but  allowing for greater safety and again more efficient, required merchant vessels during the early stages of the war, up unto the middle of 1943, to sail all the way around Africa, the Cape of Good Hope. From the middle of 1943, the transit being made through the Mediterranean. Munitions unloaded at Persian [Iranian] ports and sent by truck to the Soviet Union.

The third route used during the duration of the war being across the northern Pacific, from American points of embarkation to Vladivostok in the Soviet Far East, munitions shipped to the front via the Trans-Siberian railroad. From 1942 onward only Soviet vessels making the voyage and never interfered with by the Japanese, Tokyo unwilling to violate Soviet neutrality in the Pacific war!

"About half of all the lend-lease aid to the USSR went by the Pacific route; by convoy from the U.S. west coast to the Soviet Far East, via Vladivostok and the Trans-Siberian railway"

The allied powers on so many occasions during WW2 giving in to the demands of Joseph Stalin even to the detriment of their own personnel. As is the case with the arctic convoys!


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