The year 2016 celebrates the 75-th anniversary of the arrival of the first convoy code-named “Dervish” to the Russian port of Arkhangelsk.
The caravan that consisted of six British and Holland ships arrived to the capital of the Russian North – the city of Arkhangelsk on August 31, 1941. It delivered to the port important strategic goods among those there were 3800 depth and magnetic bombs, 15 “Hurricane” aircrafts, “Oldersdale” forwarding ship with fuel on its board as well as 10 000 tones of rubber, 1.5 tones of uniform boots, stannary, wool and equipment.
The convoy arrival started a unique military campaign that lasted over four years. Later ship caravans arriving at the northern ports got their digit alphanumeric identifiers – PQ . On their way back the combination changed the opposite – QP. After a tragedy with PQ-17 caravan they were renamed – JW, RA.
The Arctic convoys were of high importance not only for the Soviet Union but also for western countries. The goods delivered to the northern ports were strategically important thus within the sailing Hitler’s Navy and Air Forces were seriously attacked. Moreover, the convoys had a decisive influence on the course of the Second World War at sea. Moral support was also essential for successful defense activities as it helped the sailors and pilots to display their courage and made them to unite for further struggle against fascism in cooperation with anti-Hitler coalition.
At the same time, the successful military activities at sea were achieved at a very high price. The most tragic was the fate of the convoy PQ-17 that set sail towards the Soviet Union in June 1942. Only 11 ships of 35 arrived at the destination ports.
From 1941 to 1944 the northern ports of the USSR accepted 41 sea caravans (800 ships). Total amount of strategic goods supplied by allied countries according to lend-lease program is over 2 million tones as well as 5 000 tanks, 7 000 aircrafts, thousands of cars, tens of thousands of weapon, equipment and provisions. To protect the convoys the ships of northern fleet made 838 passages.
Arctic convoys participants displayed courage, fortitude and heroism in battles where people had to survive in arctic storms. However, these severe conditions proved the common goal shared by anti-Hitler coalition.
Taking into account the importance of the 75-th anniversary of the arrival of the Arctic convoys, the Government of the Arkhangelsk region initiated celebratory events in Arkhangelsk, Murmansk and Saint-Petersburg. That intention was supported by Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation Dmitry Rogozin as well as by some federal bodies.
The interregional steering committee of “Dervish 75” is headed by Plenipotentiary Representative of President of the Russian Federation in the Northwestern Federal District Vladimir Bulavin.
The cities of Arkhangelsk and Severodvinsk (Molotovsk) are to be the main platforms for celebratory events that will be held in August 29-31, 2016.
“Dervish 75” is to be visited by foreign diplomatic missions, convoy participants as well as representatives of local and federal authorities.
One of the main events is VI International Forum “To the Glory of Fleet and Motherland” that includes:
Meeting of Joint Committee on Marine Heritage of the Government of the Russian Federation;
International academic and practice conference;
Meeting of Board on Marine and Sea ports cooperation among the youth
Within the celebratory events a number of large scale international and interregional events are to be held: a national action “Greeting to the icebreaker “The Krasin”– arctic convoy participant” and interregional action «Marine Wreath of Glory», a national historic – public project “Marine Glory of Russia”. Celebratory cultural and entertainment events for guests and citizens including a gala concert “The convoy survived through times” with participation of famous local and federal groups and singers are also planned. The concert will be followed by a celebratory fireworks.
Arkhangelsk Northern State Marine Museum will present diorama exposition “Dervish – Arctic convoys brotherhood” supported by Arkhangelsk region Ministry of Culture.
Within the preparatory measures a lot of historic and cultural events and exhibitions for children and youth are organized.
The anniversary events are aimed to attract society’s attention towards the importance of global military and historic event as well as to display patriotism and citizenship among people and to strengthen international cooperation.