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Surviving the Arctic Convoys

Leading Seaman Charlie Erswell saw much more than his fair share of action during the Second World War. He was present at the 1942 landing in North Africa (Operation TORCH), D-Day and the liberation of Norway. But his main area of operations was that of the Arctic Convoys, escorting merchant ships taking essential war supplies to the Russian ports of Murmansk and Archangel. In addition to contending with relentless U-boat and Luftwaffe attacks, crews endured the extreme sea conditions and appalling weather. This involved clearing ice and snow in temperatures as low as minus thirty degrees Celsius. No wonder Winston Churchill described it as ‘the worst journey in the world’.

Fortunately, Charlie, who served on two destroyers, HMS Milne and Savage, kept a record of his experiences and is alive today to describe them. His story, published to coincide with the 80th Anniversary of the first convoy, is more than one man’s account. It is an inspiring tribute to his colleagues, many of whom were killed in action. No-one reading Surviving The Arctic Convoys could fail to be moved by the bravery and endurance of these outstanding men.

Born in 1923, Charlie Erswell spent his childhood at Berwick-upon-Tweed. He joined the Royal Navy in December 1941 and for the next five years was in the thick of the action, as described in this book. After demobilisation in 1949, he pursued a varied engineering career. For 12 years before retirement at 65 he manufactured artificial limbs in Leeds for Roehampton Hospital, London. He lives with his second wife, Betty in Yorkshire.

  • Author: John R. McKay
  • Title: Surviving the Arctic Convoys: The Wartime Memoirs of Leading Seaman Charlie Erswell
  • First Published by: Pen & Sword Maritime
  • First Published Format: HC
  • First Published Date: 18 June 2021
  • ISBN-10: 1399013033
  • ISBN-13: 978-1399013031

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