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VIDEOS

30.08.2021

Ambassador Andrei Kelin's address on the occasion of the 80th Anniversary of the first Arctic convoy "Dervish" arrival in the port of Arkhangelsk

 

Dear participants,

Today we are commemorating a memorable anniversary of our shared history: 80 years ago, on this day the first Arctic convoy «Dervish» arrived in the port of Arkhangelsk with strategically important cargoes for the needs of the Red Army. The sailors of the Allied countries demonstrated true heroism, sending the aid by the shortest route in harsh Arctic conditions under enemy fire. Thus, in the first months of the war, which were the most difficult for the USSR, the Allies made a significant contribution to the fight of the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany. The courage, valor and strength of character of our peoples are a vivid example of «brotherhood in arms» and mutual assistance which united our countries against the German fascists. These glorious pages are forever inscribed in the history of our common victories.

We honor the memory of the convoys’ participants. In the United Kingdom, as well as in Russia, there are monuments dedicated to those who took part in these daunting operations. They are situated in the very north of Scotland. One monument was installed by British veterans on the shore of Loch Ewe Gulf, where a transport caravan was being prepared to put to sea. The other memorial, installed by joint Russian and British efforts, is on the shore of Scapa Flow Bay, which was a base for naval ships during the war.

Every year our diplomats hold commemorative events at these monuments. I visited Loch Ewe last May and laid flowers at the memorial. Recently, an event was held in Liverpool on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the «Dervish» Convoy. I spoke to two British Royal Navy veterans who are in their 90s. We pay tribute to everyone who took part in these dangerous operations, including those who did not return from the Arctic campaigns during the war, or, having seen Victory, are no longer with us today.  

The sad truth is that there are fewer and fewer participants of those events with us today. Two weeks ago we attended the mourning events dedicated to the passing of Eric Carter - a pilot of the 151st aviation regiment of the Royal Air Force - who came to Arkhangelsk as part of the Dervish convoy. It was a sad event, but it allowed us to see how respected the veteran was and how much the British valued his military merits, including those in joint operations with our country.

It is all the more important for us to keep in touch with the living participants of those events. Over the years we have been holding talks and seminars, inviting veterans at the events at the Embassy in London and the Consulate General in Edinburgh. An excellent occasion for the meetings is the honorary mission of presenting Russian state awards to them. We have presented convoy participants with state awards for personal courage and bravery - the Ushakov Medals - and just this June, another such medal, found its hero here. Veterans of the Arctic Convoys also receive jubilee awards. Last year, despite the pandemic, more than five hundred Britons received the medal "75 Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War".

It gives us an opportunity to emphasize that the heroic deed of veterans is not forgotten, and at the same time to address their wisdom and experience, to hear valuable advice from people who have gone through so much in life. I must say that they retain a very warm attitude towards our country and our people, and believe in the importance of good relations between Russia and Great Britain. I really hope that the participants of your conference turn not only to the most valuable archival documents, but also to the memories of those who were personally involved in those harsh campaigns.

By the way, I am glad to inform you that we told the pilot of the above-mentioned 151st  Air Regiment, Vic Bashford, who arrived in the USSR in August 1941,  about the conference in Arkhangelsk. We also notified David Craig, a merchant seaman who spent several months of 1943 in Molotovsk, now Severodvinsk. Both veterans have been to our country numerous times since the war ended, and in 2016 they participated in commemorative events in Arkhangelsk and St. Petersburg to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the «Dervish». They were happy to hear the news and they send their best wishes to the conference participants.

I can only say that I wholeheartedly join them in these wishes.

Thank you for your attention!

30 August 2021

 





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