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ARCTIC CONVOY PQ8

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When Robert Brundle took the SS Harmatris to Russia with Convoy PQ8 he was 47 years of age. Both ship and master were veterans and had already sailed in convoys across the North Atlantic and to South Africa.


The 5,395 ton coal fired ship, laden with 8,000 tons of armaments put to sea  on 26 December 1941 joining PQ8 and Brundle was elected Convoy Commodore. Two minesweepers, a cruiser and two destroyers escorted the eight merchant vessels. On 8 January the convoy left Reykjavik bound for Murmansk. Harmatris was struck by two torpedoes in No 1 hold which caused flooding. A third torpedo struck her a few hours later and the crew evacuated to HMS Speedwell in attendance. A volunteer crew reboarded and Speedwell took the wounded ship in tow. A tug eventually replaced Speedwell and the entire crew now returned to their ship. The stricken Harmatris finally berthed in Murmansk at 0800 on 20 January 1942. Once unloaded the battered ship entered dry dock on 10 February, damage was considerable, the crew worked to repair the ship; food was scarce and the port was frequently bombed by the Luftwaffe. 


As a result of his heroic efforts to preserve his ship and crew Captain Brundle was awarded the OBE and the Lloyds War Medal. He died in 1960 at the age of 66.

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