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Compiled from diverse archive sources, these two documentaries by Royal Navy Historian Roland R. Smith vividly capture two very different types of British convoys during the Second World War. The first film looks at the Atlantic convoys and the titanic struggle against the U-boat menace, while the second paints a vivid portrait of the Russian convoys that had to sail through the most horrific of conditions at sea in order to keep the Soviet Union going in its war against the Nazis.
PERILOUS WATERS: The Battle of the Atlantic was essential for Britain’s very survival. If the sea-lanes could not be kept open, the nation would quickly run out of vital supplies. This film concentrates on the Royal Navy’s role in protecting the merchant convoys and with the use of dramatic German archive material, the U-boats that stalked them. Highlights include a film record of a Flower class corvette setting out for convoy duties, scenes of the collection of 50 American destroyers from Canada in 1940 and convoys rallying in Nova Scotia. There is also extensive coverage of the exploits of the 2nd Escort Group under Captain Frederic John Walker, C.B., D.S.O, including anti-submarine actions, their triumphant return to Liverpool after sinking six U-boats on a single voyage and Captain Walker’s funeral ceremony and burial at sea.
THE HAZARDS OF RUSSIAN CONVOYS: Re-supplying the Soviet Union by sea meant convoys braving some of the most atrocious sailing conditions imaginable and running the gauntlet of German warships, U-boats and bombers. Mainly based on a rare film record of convoy PQ18, this gripping film vividly illustrates those hazards. PQ18 set sail in September 1942 on a 16-day voyage to the White Sea. It essentially comprised 40 merchant ships and 16 escort destroyers plus corvettes, trawlers and minesweepers. Along the way, the cameras recorded the atrocious conditions, frantic anti-submarine attacks by destroyers and waves of German bombers sweeping overhead, providing a unique film record of a Russian convoy from beginning to end.