Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Norman Scarth

Between 1941 and 1945, hundreds of merchant vessels left Loch Ewe – as well as the Clyde and ports in Iceland – to deliver supplies, weapons and ammunition to northern Soviet Union ports of Arkhangelsk (Archangel) and Murmansk. They were escorted by ships of the Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, and the U.S. Navy and together battled extreme weather and German bombardment from U-boats, Junkers 88 aircraft and battleships. It was crucial to the ultimate Allies’ success to keep a vital supply line with Russia open. Winston Churchill said the Arctic Convoy mission was “the most dangerous journey in the world“.
Eighty-five merchant vessels and 16 Royal Navy warships (two cruisers, six destroyers, eight other escort ships) were lost and over 3,000 men died during the convoys but one who survived the dense fog, 60 feet waves, icy cold seas, and enemy guns, was the young HMS Matchless sailor, Norman Scarth, who was just 18 years old when his destroyer (pictured above left) was part of the battle on Boxing Day 1943 that saw the sinking of Germany’s mightiest battleship, the Scharnhorst by Royal Navy battleship, HMS Duke of York. There are a significant number of West Yorkshire Police officers and members of the judiciary in the North of England who wish it was Scarth who had perished in the freezing Arctic Ocean that night.

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