Bridge of Allan Arctic Convoy sailor thanked for his role during WW2

A Bridge of Allan man was among the many former sailors thanked for their role in WW2 Arctic Convoys in a virtual memorial event last Sunday, May 9.

The commemoration event had been planned for May last year at Loch Ewe in Ross-shire – where many of the convoys assembled – but had been scuppered by Covid-19.

David Mackie, now aged 95, had joined the Royal Navy aged 17 in 1943.

He spent some time serving on convoys in the North Atlantic and later Arctic convoys which were taking supplies to Russia.

As well as threats from U-boats, these convoys were also vulnerable to attacks from the air and suffered from severe icing problems.

David said: “At that age you are taken up with living – despite the destruction around us, dying was not on our minds”.

Sunday’s virtual event thanked the sailors who endured, what Winston Churchill called, the ‘worst journey in the world’ to the far north Russian ports of Murmansk and Arkhangelsk and involved representatives of the Russian Government, and Winston Churchill’s granddaughter Celia Sandys.

The 45-minute tribute was aired on YouTube and Facebook.

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Russia’s Consul General in Edinburgh, Andrey Yakovlev, quoting from Tolstoy, said in the tribute: “We should learn about our fathers and their fathers not to be proud of them, but to be worthy of them.”

Around 3000 British sailors were involved in the convoys, and braved German U-boat attacks, fields of ice, and sub-zero temperatures to transport food, weapons and other critical supplies to Britain’s wartime ally.

These shipments allowed the Soviet Union to resist the Nazi invasion on the Eastern Front and were essential to the eventual defeat of Hitler.

But more than 120 convoy ships were sunk with the loss of 2,773 allied lives.

David Mackie, the oldest member of Bridge of Allan and Dunblane Rotary Club, is the only remaining founder member of the club.

Following VE-Day, in May 1945, he transferred to a ship attached to the Pacific fleet which joined an American taskforce supporting the invasion of Japan.

However, before it reached the far east, Japan surrendered in early August 1945 – following the dropping of nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the declaration of war by the Soviet Union – bringing the war to an end.

David was demobbed in 1947 and rejoined civilian life, going into banking. He became the manager of the Dunblane branch of the Bank of Scotland in 1968.

His wife Sally died a few years ago and his son Alasdair is also a member of Bridge of Allan and Dunblane Rotary Club.

In recognition of his service to the Soviet Union, David was awarded the Ushakov Medal by the Russian Ambassador to Scotland in a ceremony in Edinburgh a few years ago.

This medal has been awarded to veterans of the Arctic convoys ‘for personal courage and valour shown during World War 2 while participating in the Arctic Convoys’.

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