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Arctic Convoy PQ8: The Story of Capt Robert Brundle and the SS Harmatris Hardcover – Illustrated, March 10, 2010
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- Publisher : Pen and Sword Maritime; Illustrated edition (March 10, 2010)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 208 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1848840519
- ISBN-13 : 978-1848840515
- Item Weight : 1.3 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #3,989,766 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Dogged from the outset, the Harmatris originally sailed as part of convoy PQ6 but had to return home after damage and a fire in one of her holds. Duly repaired, she then joined PQ8 with her Master - Captain Robert Brundle, appointed Convoy Commodore. It was 26 December 1941 and one Cruiser, two Destroyers and two Minesweepers escorted the eight merchant ships of that convoy. This was a journey through the gates of Hell with the Harmatris taking no fewer than three direct torpedo hits. Evacuated after the third strike and later re-boarded by her crew, she was taken in tow and finally limped into Murmansk on 20 January 1942 after surviving numerous air attacks during the final leg of that journey. One of the convoy escorts, HMS Matabele, had been lost with only two of her crew surviving.
Dry-docked on 10 February, for the next 5 months the crew of the Harmatris struggled to repair their badly damaged ship whilst having to contend with no parts, no workforce, temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees and constant attacks by the Luftwaffe. Finally loaded with a cargo vital to British wartime industry, it was not until September that she was able to join QP 14 - a convoy of 20 ships for the journey home. Those convoy numbers provide a clue to the frequency of these Arctic convoys.
Just as the journey out had been through the very gates of Hell, so the return was no different with two Destroyers and six Merchant Ships lost with great loss of life.
Captain Brundle was decorated by a grateful nation as well as by Lloyds of London for his heroic actions in preserving his ship and crew - and this is his story from that time in his life. It is an action-packed account of a man who rose to confront each crisis as they were met. At the same time, as odd as it might sound, the story creates (at least for me) the mental image of a quiet man who would have been equally at home with pipe and slippers or, perhaps, pottering about in his greenhouse, as in command of a ship - and even a convoy of ships, at time of war. Such are the attributes of this particular individual that he was able to rise to the each and every occasion when called upon so to do!
182 pages of riveting text plus 40 black and white photographs, glossary, bibliography and index combine to make this an important book which will provide historians with yet another piece to the overall jigsaw of history. Perhaps, more importantly, it is simply a darned good read.