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Arctic Convoy PQ8: The Story of Capt Robert Brundle and the SS Harmatris Hardcover – 19 Nov 2009


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Arctic Convoy PQ8: The Story of Capt Robert Brundle and the SS Harmatris + Forgotten Sacrifice: The Arctic Convoys of World War II (General Military)
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Pen & Sword Select; hardcover edition (19 Nov 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848840519
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848840515
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.9 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,053,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Ned Middleton HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 20 Feb 2010
Format: Hardcover
The dreaded convoys from Great Britain to Russia during WW2 were each given the prefix PQ followed by consecutive numbers beginning with, of course, PQ1. For the return journey, the same number was retained except that PQ became QP. This is the story of one man and his ship which took part in one of the earliest of those convoys - PQ8. These were the most dangerous duties - not only because of the ever present danger of enemy submarines and air attack but also because of the Arctic conditions. In short, even if you did manage to get into a lifeboat, your chances of actually surviving the loss of your ship were virtually nil. A full appreciation of these circumstances go a long way to understanding why the British Merchant Navy lost a higher proportion of their personnel than any of the country's armed services during WW2. Yes, that is a fact.

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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David Lloyd on 29 Feb 2012
Format: Hardcover
Disappointing. The title and product description suggests the book is about the British freighter SS Harmatris and her captain Robert Brundle on two hard fought Arctic convoys to and from Stalin's Russia in 1942. There is a great story to be told. In December 1941 Harmatris sailed from Iceland to Murmansk in Convoy PQ8, was torpedoed just short of her destination and was repaired in conditions of great danger and deprivation over 6 months in the heavily bombed port. She returned to the UK in Convoy QP14 in September 1942, carrying survivors of the tragic convoy PQ17, and seeing more heavy fighting. The heroic Captain Brundle was decorated. The author is the Captain's grandson and drew on the Captain's diaries and reports to the Admiralty. Here is the opportunity to see the Arctic convoys at their most desperate hour through the eyes of a senior and decorated British merchant captain.

Unfortunately only a minority of the text is devoted to the SS Harmatris, her Captain and crew. There are few direct quotes from the Captain's diaries and reports. The greater part of the book provides background and a summary of other Arctic convoys through to the end of the war, long after the Arctic voyages of the Harmatris. These topics are covered with greater depth and scholarship in existing works such as Arctic Convoys 1941-1945 by Richard Woodman. The book lacks footnotes citing the sources for key statements. This is a missed opportunity to focus on the unique and compelling story of the Harmatris and her Captain. Perhaps the editors at Pen-and-Sword books could have better assisted the author to make the best of the book?
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By J. Williams on 19 May 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book as an ex-library copy, but when it arrived it appeared to be brand-new, so I am highly delighted.
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Format: Hardcover
Inspiring story , well written and great to read. super service
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A remarkable story of survival. 20 Feb 2010
By Ned Middleton - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The dreaded convoys from Great Britain to Russia during WW2 were each given the prefix PQ followed by consecutive numbers beginning with, of course, PQ1. For the return journey, the same number was retained except that PQ became QP. This is the story of one man and his ship which took part in one of the earliest of those convoys - PQ8. These were the most dangerous duties - not only because of the ever present danger of enemy submarines and air attack but also because of the Arctic conditions. In short, even if you did manage to get into a lifeboat, your chances of actually surviving the loss of your ship were virtually nil. A full appreciation of these circumstances go a long way to understanding why the British Merchant Navy lost a higher proportion of their personnel than any of the country's armed services during WW2. Yes, that is a fact.

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.

NM
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
An Untold Story 28 Dec 2012
By PeterP - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was a particularly interesting book to me personally. My father was a 25 yearold seaman in the crew of the Harmatris throughout this entire voyage. He never said much during his lifetime and beyond the name "Harmatris" all I really remember, as a 4 yearold, was the sorry state of his health when he did get home. Captain Brundle's grandson, Michael Wadsworth, has put together a detailed account of a nightmare.
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