The Princess Royal has attended a commemoration ceremony in the Russian city of Arkhangelsk, together with her husband Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence. It was the 75th anniversary of the first Arctic Convoys which provided protection to merchant ships during the Second World War.
The Princess Royal spent some time meeting with the veterans who took part in the Arctic Convoys at the military cemetery where both British and Russian soldiers are buried.
“You are a symbol of the shared history between the United Kingdom and Russia. It is so important that we continue to remember and honour that sacrifice made by you, our veterans…you played a crucial role in the victory over Nazism,” The Princess Royal said in a speech at the ceremony.
The ceremony was also attended by representatives of 10 diplomatic missions and also by veterans. Seven British seamen who participated in the delivery of supplies under the Lend-Lease program during World War Two came to Arkhangelsk from the UK.
“I am in Arkhangelsk for the second time,” Arctic Convoy veteran David B said. “The first was more than 70 years ago. And I’m very happy to be here today to participate in this ceremony. For me it was important to come. And I want to thank the residents of Arkhangelsk for preserving this memorial, for inviting us.”
The Arctic Convoys, which took place between 1941 and 1945, ensured that supplies were able to reach the Soviet Union during the German blockades. Approximately 78 convoys of merchant vessels sailed from the United Kingdom, Iceland and North America to the northern ports of Arkhangelsk and Murmansk between August 1941 and May 1945. The British Navy and their allies suffered the loss of over 3,000 servicemen during the Arctic Convoys, when their ships were attacked by Germany. They also lost around 100 ships.
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) September 1, 2016