The Ministry of Defence, together with Liverpool City Council and The Royal British Legion, are inviting veterans of the Second World War Arctic Convoys to a special day of events in Liverpool to mark their 75th anniversary on Monday 31 October…

A reception at Liverpool Town Hall, followed by a ceremony on board a Royal Navy destroyer moored at the city’s Cruise Terminal, will pay tribute to those who endured what Winston Churchill once described as “the worst journey on Earth,” honouring the many brave members of the Armed Forces and the Merchant Navy who took part in the mission to help supply the Russian Front during the Second Word War, from the UK through the Arctic Circle to the Russian port of Arkhangelsk.

The events in Liverpool are part of a year of commemorations in the UK and overseas to mark the 75th Anniversary. Veterans and their families will be joined by Defence Minister, Lord Howe, the First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones, and the Lord Mayor of Liverpool Councillor Roz Gladden, who will all attend the reception, hosted by the Royal British Legion, which will include music from the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines, Plymouth.

To mark the occasion, a Royal Navy destroyer will be moored at Liverpool Cruise Terminal, Liverpool Docks and veterans will be invited to tour the ship, hosted by the Ship’s Company.

British Arctic Convoy veterans are invited to apply for spaces at the events by no later than Monday 10 October 2016.

The First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Philip Jones, said: “The veterans of the Arctic Convoys braved pursuit by unseen enemy vessels and some of the worst weather imaginable to bring supplies to the Russian front line at the height of the Second World War. I am delighted to invite these heroes and their families to be honoured in Liverpool for the 75th anniversary of their very first mission and would encourage anyone who served on the convoys to apply.”

Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Roz Gladden, said: “The Arctic Convoys were a key part of Britain’s survival during World War Two, and it is amazing to think of the men who braved those treacherous journeys, putting their lives on the line in those relentless conditions. I am hugely proud that Liverpool is taking the lead in marking the 75th anniversary – many of the convoys set sail from Liverpool so it is fitting that the event takes place in the city. I look forward to hosting the event where we will honour the brave members of the Armed Forces and Merchant Navy.”

Roger Ellison, age 89, a Merchant Navy Arctic Convoy veteran and retired Liverpool marine pilot plans to attend the commemorations in October. He said: “I’m really happy to be joining other veterans from the Royal Navy and Merchant Navy on 31 October in Liverpool. I set sail on 31 October 1944 sailed to Murmansk, Russia, from Pier Head Liverpool on RMS Scythia, an armed troop ship but a Cunard White Star vessel so this anniversary in October is very important to me. During the voyage we encountered some of the very worst weather imaginable, but the real heroes were those who undertook several passages on Convoy, and those who did not return.”

The month of October marks 75 years since the first Arctic Convoy set sail from Britain and arrived in Arkhangelsk, Russia. The convoys provided Russia with considerable resources. Over the course of the Second World War, convoys delivered between 3½ and 4 million tons of cargo of all kinds, from thousands of tanks and aircraft to vital fuel and machinery.

The cargo was delivered on rough seas that were often occupied by U-Boats. Convoy losses on the route were very high, and 5.7 per cent of ships which sailed were lost compared with the overall convoy loss during the war of 0.33 per cent.

In 2012, to honour those who served on the convoys, the Arctic Star was instituted by the British Government. To date 18,050 Arctic Stars have been issued.