Scandinavian Collectors Club


            The Arctic Convoys serving Murmansk and Archangel, Russia, during WW II, brought lend-lease materiel to the Soviet Union. This is their story using historic photos and postal history. The vessels plied the North Atlantic and Barents Sea, with constant threat from German submarines.

            The first convoy sailed in 1941 from England via Iceland to Russia and was code-named Dervish. After that the sailings were given code numbers beginning with QP or PQ depending on whether they were going to or from Russia. The code prefix changed for each year of the war.

            The author summarizes some of the key events that occurred during the war involving the convoys, taking them chronologically with each passing year. The Norwegian merchant fleet played a key role in these operations. Mail is shown from Russian, American, British, and German participants with many of the items censored depending on origin, destination, and routing.

            Photographs and picture postcards of various marine craft, both transport supply vessels as well as escort ships, bring a sense of immediacy to the reader and supplement the examples of mail to help tell the story. The massive supply effort succeeded despite the loss of some ships. About 7.5% of the supply tonnage was lost over the 5-year period of the convoys. 1943 was a fortunate year with all vessels making it through.

            A brief list of literature sources is provided, and credit is given to a number of collectors who provided some of the covers for illustration. One appendix lists the Norwegian ships in the convoys and the London ship cachet numbers. Another appendix lists the convoy numbers by year, their point of origin, the total number of ships and the number sunk. A list is provided of the U-boats that were sunk during the convoys, and a final appendix gives the letter codes for all Allied convoys during the war.

            Author Lørdahl was hospitalized with terminal cancer as the publishing arrangements for his book were being finalized. He was able to help with last minute changes and corrections. The printer delivered the books the day that Erik died. He has left an important document for the benefit of postal historians.

Alan Warren