Convoy PQ 17 - On 27 June 1942 the merchant ships and escorts left
Hvalfjord Iceland, On the evening of the 4th July the convoy received
the following signal.
Immediate: owing to threat from surface ships, convoy is
to disperse and proceed to Russian ports. a second signal was then
received closely after:
Most Immediate: My 2123/4. Convoy is to scatter.
The Convoy broke up each vessel heading to Russian ports. On the
6th July the Trawlers, St Austin, Lord Middleton, and Northern
Gem arrived at the haven of Matochkin Strait.
When the order to scatter was given the trawler Ayrshire
headed north towards the icepack under the command of Lt J.A Gradwell
RNVR In company with the Ayrshire where the freighters, Troubador.
Ironclad, and Silver Sword. By using the Troubador
as an icebreaker they entered 20 miles into the icepack, then cammouflaged
the south facing sides of the ships with white paint. Eventually
they broke out and headed for Novaya Zemlya of which they reached
on the 10th july. They continued the following day to Matochkin
Strait. there they met another 3 ships and met up with a escort
and on 24th July the Convoy reached Archangel. The command shown
by Lt Gradwell no doubt saved the 3 freighters and his own commad
from certain doom he was awarded the DSO for his actions.