The author was Navigation/Gunnery Officer on SS Empire Baffin, a 6,978 ton cargo ship. Aged 31 years he compiled this remarkable diary of the dramas and disasters that befell Convoy PQ18 carrying essential war supplies from Great Britain to the Soviet Union. This story follows the movement of the cargo ships and their Royal Naval escorts from the mustering point at Loch Ewe to their destination Archangel. Daily German attack from the air and sea and long periods at action stations deprived the author and all the seamen involved of sleep. The loss of many ships and comrades and the prospect of death through drowning and hypothermia took their toll. Having to function while exhausted, ill-nourished and freezing cold demanded that every man gave of his utmost. Yet remarkably humour remained intact. Once in Archangel his insight into the hardships faced by the Russians is revealing. For the survivors there remained the awesome challenge of the return journey this time unescorted. Unlike many the author finally returned to Britain in December 1942.
Alfred Grossmith Mason joined the Merchant Navy in 1927 qualifying in 1931. He served through the Second World War and continued in the Service until 1976. Author died in 1992 His daughter Julie Grossmith Deltrice has edited this diary. She accompanied her Father on many foreign voyages. Now retired from her nursing career, she lives near Sunderland.
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