Photographs of Arctic Convoys of World War II
After Germany invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, the Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin, demanded help and Britain and its allies provided supplies. The most direct route was by sea, around northern Norway to the Soviet ports of Murmansk and Archangel. The Arctic convoys of World War II were oceangoing convoys which sailed from the United Kingdom, Iceland, and North America to northern ports in the Soviet ports.
About 1400 merchant ships delivered essential supplies to the Soviet Union under the Lend-Lease program, escorted by ships of the Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, and the U.S. Navy. Eighty-five merchant vessels and 16 Royal Navy warships (two cruisers, six destroyers, eight other escort ships) were lost. Nazi Germany’s Kriegsmarine lost a number of vessels including one battleship, three destroyers and at least 30 U-boats as well as a large number of aircraft. The convoys demonstrated the Allies commitment to helping the Soviet Union, prior to the opening of a Second Front, and tied up a substantial part of Germany’s Navy and Air Force.
Check out these photographs of arctic convoys of World War II below.
Also check: Black And White Photos Of World War I [18+]
1. German aerial photographs of Soviet airfields along the Kola Bay.
Visible symbols: 1 – aerodrome ‘Varlamovo I’, 2 – aerodrome ‘Varlamovo II’, 3 – airfield ‘Varlamovo III’, 4 – seadrome lips at Dirty, 5 – airfield ‘Arctic’, 6 – airfield ‘Cola – South’ 7 – airfield ‘Murmashi’ 8 – Power ‘Murmashi’.
2. Escorts and merchant ships at Hvalfjord before the sailing of Convoy PQ-17.
Behind the destroyer Icarus (1.03) is the Russian tanker AZERBAIJAN. The sea voyage to the north Russian ports of Murmansk and Archangel was the shortest route for sending Allied supplies to Russia. But it was also the most dangerous owing to the large concentration of German forces in northern Norway. The convoy PQ-17 was decimated by U-boats and the Luftwaffe after a communication from the Admiralty on 4 July 1942 ordered the escort to ‘scatter’.
3. View of the Allied convoy aboard a German bomber Focke-Wulf Fw.200C “Condor”.
4. HMS Avenger (D14) (ex-mercantile Rio Hudson) underway in rough seas, date and location unknown.
Note the unusual camouflage scheme on her flight deck. Six Sea Hurricane IIC fighters are lined-up on the centre line.
5. BRT 6000 freighter sank in Barents Sea, January 1942.
6. British battleship HMS Duke of York fires her big guns at German battleship Scharnhorst during the Battle of the North Cape, 1943.
7. Techniques hung bombs under Ju-88A-4.
8. Sailors using steam hoses to clear ice from anchor chains and winches on board HMS SCYLLA during a cold spell on patrol in the Atlantic, February 1943.
9. Nazi submarine sunk by the famed cutter SPENCER.
Effect of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter SPENCER’S fire are visible in this closeup shot of the U-Boat, taken as the battle raged. The Nazi standing by the stanchion amidships disappeared a moment after this picture was taken by a Coast Guard photographer. The U-Boat had been trying to sneak into the center of the convoy. Date: 17 April 1943.
10. A German U-boat enters a Norwegian harbour in July 1942 to a welcome party of German officers and soldiers.
11. Ice-covered deck of the British warship while escorting a convoy en route to Murmansk, Russia.
12. Patrol ships of the Northern Fleet in Kola Bay.
13. Union transport in the port of Murmansk. At the stern is seen gun mounted on a special platform.
14. HMS Anson’s guns iced up while on Russian Convoys, circa March 1942.
15. Moment of the shot 380-mm guns fired of the German battleship “Tirpitz”.
16. Barbette and gun turret Bruno or Caesar on German battleship Bismarck, 1940.
17. German Battleship Bismarck, Anton and Bruno turrets.
18. The boat with the English aircraft carrier Trumpeter with Soviet tug makes its way through the ice of the Kola Bay.
19. U-251 German submarine coming to the pier in Narvik in July 1942.
20. Northern fleet sailors playing billiard on the shore of the Kola Bay.
21. Gun crew of one of the destroyers of the Northern Fleet firing at German aircraft.
22. The polar bear on the deck of U 307 submarine in Albertini Bay, September 1944.
23. The lighter side of life at Worldie Bay as H. Semkat (left) and H. Reyer (right) hold two young polar bears.
24. Soviet destroyer leader Baku of Northern fleet in 1943.
25. A Ju-88 bomber made ready for mission against Murmansk. Norway, June 1942.
26. Ice forming on a 20-inch signal projector on the cruiser HMS SHEFFIELD whilst she is helping to escort an Arctic convoy to Russia.
27. Sailors chipping away the ice and snow from the deck of H.M.S. Vansittart while on convoy escort duty in the Arctic in February 1943.
28. Snow and ice covered the upper works of all ships.
29. In perilous conditions a sailor frees chains, wires and bollards from the ice.
30. Seamen clearing ice from the forecastle of HMS Belfast, November 1943.