The PQ.17 Tragedy
Alan Harvie, Engineer, and John “Sarge” Ransome, Deck Department
SS Honomu, 1942
Listen to Alan Harvie and John “Sarge” Ransome
The “Murmansk Run” refers to the shipping route used by the Allies during World War II to deliver supplies to the Russian front. The route stretched from ports in North America and Great Britain around Iceland and through the Arctic waters of the Barents Sea to the Russian ports of Murmansk and Archangel. These merchant ships, carrying machinery, equipment, ammunition, food, and supplies for the defense of Russia, were vulnerable to attack by German U-boats (submarines) patrolling the waters of the North Atlantic.
The merchant ships traveled in convoys with protection from armed escort vessels. Convoys bound for the Soviet Union were named PQ; those returning were designated QP. Listen to Alan Harvie and John “Sarge” Ransome as they recount their perilous experiences aboard the SS Honomu sailing in the PQ 17 Convoy on the Murmansk Run.
These questions are based on the accompanying primary sources. They are designed to help you practice working with historical documents. Some of these documents have been edited, but all are authentic. As you analyze the documents, take into account the source of each document and any point of view that may be presented in the document.
- According to the recorded statements of Alan Harvie and John Ransome and referring to at least one supporting primary source, what was the “Murmansk Run” and why was it so dangerous? Cite your evidence.
- According to recorded statements of Alan Harvie and John Ransome, what happened to them as a result of the order to scatter the convoy?
- Based on the recorded statements of Alan Harvie and John Ransome, and referring to at least one supporting primary source, state 3 conditions aboard the raft that would reduce the likelihood of Harvie and Ransome’s survival.
Supporting Primary Sources
Additional Primary & Secondary Sources
- Painter—a line used for securing or towing a boat
- Convoy—a group convoyed or organized for convenience or protection while moving