July 5, 1942. Oberst Hajo Herrmann leads his combat group KG30 into attack against allied shipping in the high arctic. Convoy PQ-17 was the Allies' worst Arctic defeat to the German naval and air forces. In Arctic Encounter, the ships of PQ-17 are under attack by the Ju-88 bombers of III/KG30 based at Bardufoss, Norway.
The StoryThe arctic convoy battles of 1942 were among the most hazardous for the allies. Challenged by the intimidating German surface fleet, submarine forces and the ever present Luftwaffe, the multinational merchantmen relied upon the over-stretched and overworked Royal Navy for protection. In addition, the allies had to deal with the natural ebb and flow of the seasons in the extreme northern hemisphere. During winter, ice packs forced the convoys further south toward the enemy, while in summer the long hours of daylight exposed them to the ever marauding German forces. It was the task of the German air force and navy to halt the supply of war material to their natural enemy, Russia, by whatever means. In convoy PQ-17, their coordinated attack resulted in the sinking of a staggering 23 of the 34 convoy vessels.
The SignaturesOberst Hajo Herrmann was one of the Luftwaffe's boldest and most innovative air tacticians during WWII. Beginning his military career at an infantry officer academy, he was commissioned in the newly formed Luftwaffe in 1935. He became a founder member of the Condor Legion in Spain and upon returning to Germany in 1937, joined KG4 and wrote several highly praised tactics reports.
When WWII began, he flew He-111's in Poland and Norway. By 1940 Herrmann was Commander of the 7th Staffel of KG4, and led many attacks on England during the Battle of Britain. In February of 1941 his group went to Sicily, where they flew against Malta and Greece. In one such attack, he placed a single bomb on a munitions ship. The resulting explosion sank 11 ships and made the Greek port of Piraeus unusable for months.
In early 1942 he was Commander of III/KG30, attacking arctic convoys from Norway, including the famous attacks on PQ-17. July of 1942 saw him assigned to the general staff in Germany, where he became a close confidant of Herrmann Goering. Hajo Herrmann was creator of the 'wild boar' tactics of night fighting in the Defence of the Reich. By 1944 he was Inspector General of night fighters. He has a tally of over three hundred operational missions and nine RAF bombers destroyed. Hajo Herrmann received the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. He is currently practicing law in Germany.
Frank Saies-Jones served on various ships, including HMS Woolwich in Port Said, HMS Kelvin, a destroyer of the 14th Destroyer Flotilla based in Alexandria, Egypt. He retired with the rank of Lt. Commander with the 1939-45 Star, the Atlantic Star, the Africa Star, the CVSM & Clasp, the Defence Medal, the Victory Medal, the Canadian Centennial Medal, the Canadian Forces Decoration & Bar, and the Malta Medal.
C. N. Mawer was a First Lieutenant in HMCS Nootka at war's start, and later Gunnery Control Officer on HMCS Haida, a tribal class destroyer, based at Scapa Flow as part of the British Home Fleet, screening the battle fleet and escorting Russia-bound convoys. Mawer was involved in numerous actions, and retired with the rank of Commander. His awards included the 1939-45 Star, the Atlantic Star with France & Germany Bar, the Volunteer Medal, the Victory Medal, the British Arctic Medal, and the Russian Medal.
John C. (Jim) Colman served on the Canadian Tribal Class destroyer HMCS Huron in 1944, escorting convoys through the Arctic Ocean to the port of Murmansk on the Kola Peninsula in Northern Russia. Able Seaman Gunner Colman was awarded the 1939-45 Star, the France-Germany Star, the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal & Clasp, the War Medal, and the Soviet 40th Anniversary Medal (Murmansk Medal).
Donald W. Newman served on the destroyer HMCS Athabaskan. In December 1943 he was in this ship on Russia-bound convoy duty. She was eventually torpedoed and sank with great loss of life. Newman was taken prisoner by the Germans. His awards include the 1939-45 Star, the Atlantic Star, the Defence Medal, the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal & Clasp, the Victory Medal, and the Soviet 40th Anniversary Medal (Murmansk Medal).