The Worst Journey in History
Winston Churchill described the arctic convoys of the Second World War as the worst journeys in history; for the sailors not only had to contend with freezing conditions and the very real chance of getting stuck in the ice but also the terror of U-Boats and dive bombers. This all seems a long way from the safety of the present day and from Wiltshire – a county with no coastline. But a few weeks ago Wiltshire Council held a ceremony to honour the residents of the county who served in those convoys and who have had to wait 70 years before they were granted a service medal that recognised their particular efforts. It was a tremendous surprise, and a great honour, for those involved in organising this event to discover that there are 25 men living in Wiltshire who served in those convoys.
I was fortunate enough to attend the event, to hear the representative from the Russian embassy speak with great emotion of the debt of gratitude still felt in Russian towards those who risked their lives to support an ally in such a perilous time. I was only able to speak with a handful of those sailors but the History Centre has subsequently contacted every one of them asking a simple question; would you be willing to tell us your story? It seems like such a simple thing to do: to go to each in turn and ask for a few hours of their time to capture their stories so that we can remember them for all time. And that is what we hope to do…
Team Manager, Arts and Archives