The Parade in Red Square May 9th 2022
Mr Putin’s fine speech today at the May 9th Victory day parade seems to have left out a few details. Perhaps his memory is not all it could be, so I thought someone should remind him.
After Hitler invaded Russia in June 1941 Britain and America started supplying the Russians via the Arctic Convoys. The first one reaching Russia before the end of August and the last one in May 1945. Two of my uncles were on some of those convoys, though they came home intact they remained haunted for the rest of their lives by the horrors that they witnessed. Stalin himself acknowledged that but for this help the Soviets would not have been able to turn the tide against the Germans and their war could well have been lost at Stalingrad. I don’t recall that being mentioned.
The enormous amount of military equipment, medical equipment and supplies was sorely needed in our own battles for survival, but was sent to Russia to aid their fight against our common foe. Nor was that the only sacrifice, dozens of vital transport and war ships were lost with thousands of Allied seamen. On one convoy alone only 11 transport ships out of the 35 that set out delivered their cargoes. The rest were sunk and most of the crew perished. The rest still had to face the ruturn journey to Britain. I am sorry that slipped his mind. Maybe he was a bit preoccupied.
Among the many aircraft (and sometimes aircrew) that we supplied I would like to mention these as their story is not often told. In September 1942 the British sent 32 Hampden TB.1 Torpedo Bombers on a very hazardous flight to Vayenga (now know as Severomorsk) near Murmansk. It was at the very limit of their range and 9 were lost on the trip. They were to be involved in protecting the Allied supply convoys to Arkhangelsk and Murmansk delivering Arms, Ammunition, Medical Supplies and food to Russia. While carrying out this task they were also training the Russians to fly and maintain these aircraft. The remaining 23 Hampdens were gifted to the Soviet Naval Air Arm on October 12 1942 when the Allied Airmen returned to the UK. The Soviets were credited with sinking some 66,000 tons of German Navy shipping and damaging a further 45,000 tons using these airplanes. He might have mentioned those too, don’t you think. Perhaps his grasp of Russian history is not as good as it should be.