WILTSHIRE’S surviving Arctic Convoy veterans are to have their unique stories of camaraderie and bravery recorded for all time as part of a £10,000 oral history project.
There are now just 23 servicemen left in Wiltshire and Swindon who braved the most treacherous Arctic route, described by Sir Winston Churchill as “the worst journey in history,” to deliver vital supplies to the allies in World War ll.
From 1941 to 1945 their convoys of merchant and navy ships crossed the Arctic route on a perilous route which cost more than 85 merchant vessels and 16 warships with more than 3,000 casualties.
At a special ceremony at County Hall last autumn, members of both the Arctic convoys and Bomber Command were given the Arctic Convoy Star Medal from the Ministry of Defence to recognise their bravery and the important role they played in the war.
Now their memories are to be recorded for posterity after the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre was awarded a £10,000 Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Sharing Heritage Grant to help collect their stories before they are lost to the passing of time.
Photographic portraits will be taken to create a visual record for the community’s memory and the recorded interviews and other records will then be made available to researchers by the Wiltshire and Swindon Archive Service, based at the history centre.
Garry Perkins, cabinet member for economy, regeneration and culture at Swindon Borough Council, said: “We rightly hear much about the bravery and sacrifice of all those who served in World War Two, but those on the Arctic convoys have not had as much recognition over the years as they deserve. Their job was extremely dangerous and unpleasant, but absolutely vital. I’m glad this project is going to record their experiences, because their contribution must not be forgotten.”