The Arctic Circle defining the "midnight sun" encompasses the Atlantic Ocean from the northern edge of Iceland to the Bering Strait. The area is often considered part of the Battle of the Atlantic or the European Theatre of World War II. Pre-war navigation focused on fishing and the international ore trade from Narvik and Petsamo. Soviet settlements along the coast and rivers of the Barents Sea and Kara Sea relied upon summer coastal shipping for supplies from railheads at Arkhangelsk and Murmansk. The Soviet Union extended the Northern Sea Route past the Taymyr Peninsula to the Bering Strait in 1935.
The Arctic Circle is one of the two polar circles and the most northerly of the five major circles of latitude as shown on maps of Earth. It marks the northernmost point at which the centre of the noon sun is just visible on the December solstice and the southernmost point at which the centre of the midnight sun is just visible on the June solstice. The region north of this circle is known as the Arctic, and the zone just to the south is called the Northern Temperate Zone.
The midnight sun is a natural phenomenon that occurs in the summer months in places north of the Arctic Circle or south of the Antarctic Circle, when the Sun remains visible at the local midnight.
The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest of the world's oceans, with an area of about 106,460,000 square kilometers. It covers approximately 20 percent of the Earth's surface and about 29 percent of its water surface area. It separates the "Old World" from the "New World".
The Winter War opened the northern flank of the eastern front of World War II. Arcticnaval presence was initially dominated by the Soviet Northern Fleet of a few destroyers with larger numbers of submarines, minesweepers, and torpedo cutters supported by icebreakers. The success of the German invasion of Norway provided the Kriegsmarine with naval bases from which capital ships might challenge units of the Royal Navy Home Fleet. Luftwaffe anti-shipping aircraft of Kampfgeschwader 26 (KG 26) and Kampfgeschwader 30 (KG 30) operated intermittently from Norwegian airfields, while routine reconnaissance was undertaken by Küstenfliegergruppen aircraft including Heinkel He 115s and Blohm & Voss BV 138s. To support the Soviet Union against the German invasion, the Allies initiated a series of PQ and JW convoys bringing military supplies to the Soviet Union in formations of freighters screened by destroyers, corvettes and minesweepers. Escorting cruisers typically maneuvered outside the formation, while a larger covering force including battleships and aircraft carriers often steamed nearby to engage Kriegsmarine capital ships or raid their Norwegian bases.
The Winter War was a military conflict between the Soviet Union (USSR) and Finland. It began with a Soviet invasion of Finland on 30 November 1939, three months after the outbreak of World War II, and ended three and a half months later with the Moscow Peace Treaty on 13 March 1940. The League of Nations deemed the attack illegal and expelled the Soviet Union from the organisation.
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of conflict between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union (U.S.S.R.), Poland and other Allies, which encompassed Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Northeast Europe (Baltics), and Southeast Europe (Balkans) from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945. It has been known as the Great Patriotic War in the former Soviet Union and modern Russia, while in Germany it was called the Eastern Front, or the German-Soviet War by outside parties.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.
The Soviet Union and Germany employed smaller coastal convoys to maintain the flow of supplies to the Soviet arctic coast, transport strategic metal ores to Germany, and sustain troops on both sides of the northern flank of the eastern front. Soviet convoys hugged the coast to avoid ice while German convoys used fjords to evade Royal Navy patrols. Both sides devoted continuing efforts to minelaying and minesweeping of these shallow, confined routes vulnerable to mine warfare and submarine ambushes. German convoys were typically screened by minesweepers and submarine chasers while Soviet convoys were often protected by minesweeping trawlers and torpedo cutters. A branch of the Pacific Route began carrying Lend-Lease goods through the Bering Strait to the Soviet Arctic coast in June 1942. The number of westbound cargo ship voyages along this route was 23 in 1942, 32 in 1943, 34 in 1944 and 31 after Germany surrendered in 1945. Total westbound tonnage through the Bering Strait was 452,393 in comparison to 3,964,231 tons of North American wartime goods sent across the Atlantic to Soviet Arctic ports.A large portion of the Arctic route tonnage was fuel for Siberian airfields on the Alaska-Siberia air route.
A naval mine is a self-contained explosive device placed in water to damage or destroy surface ships or submarines. Unlike depth charges, mines are deposited and left to wait until they are triggered by the approach of, or contact with, any vessel. Naval mines can be used offensively, to hamper enemy shipping movements or lock vessels into a harbour; or defensively, to protect friendly vessels and create "safe" zones.
The M class were the standard minesweeper of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II. The vessels were the primary force in Germany's harbor defense command and were organized administratively into minesweeper flotillas.
Vorpostenboot, also referred to as VP-Boats, flakships or outpost boats, were German patrol boats which served during both World Wars. They were used around coastal areas and in coastal operations, and were tasked with – among other things – coastal patrol, ship escort, and naval combat.
The Orfey-class destroyers were built for the Baltic Fleet of the Imperial Russian Navy. They were modified versions of the earlier destroyer Novik and the Derzky class. These ships were larger, had triple torpedo tubes and an extra 102 mm (4.0 in) gun. One ship, Engels, was fitted with a 305 mm (12 in) recoilless rifle for testing in 1934. Fourteen ships were completed in 1914–1917 and fought in World War I and during the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War. The survivors fought in World War II.
The Gnevny class were a group of 29 destroyers built for the Soviet Navy in the late 1930s. They are sometimes known as the Gremyashchiy class and the official Soviet designation was Project 7. These ships fought in World War II.
Operation Weserübung was the code name for Germany's assault on Denmark and Norway during the Second World War and the opening operation of the Norwegian Campaign. The name comes from the German for "Operation Weser-Exercise", the Weser being a German river.
Scharnhorst was a German capital ship, alternatively described as a battleship or battlecruiser, of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine. She was the lead ship of her class, which included one other ship, Gneisenau. The ship was built at the Kriegsmarinewerft dockyard in Wilhelmshaven; she was laid down on 15 June 1935 and launched a year and four months later on 3 October 1936. Completed in January 1939, the ship was armed with a main battery of nine 28 cm (11 in) C/34 guns in three triple turrets. Plans to replace these weapons with six 38 cm (15 in) SK C/34 guns in twin turrets were never carried out.
Gneisenau was a German capital ship, alternatively described as a battleship and battlecruiser, of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine. She was the second vessel of her class, which included one other ship, Scharnhorst. The ship was built at the Deutsche Werke dockyard in Kiel; she was laid down on 6 May 1935 and launched on 8 December 1936. Completed in May 1938, the ship was armed with a main battery of nine 28 cm (11 in) C/34 guns in three triple turrets, though there were plans to replace these weapons with six 38 cm (15 in) SK C/34 guns in twin turrets.
HMS Edinburgh was a Town-class light cruiser of the Royal Navy, which served during the Second World War. She was one of the last two Town class cruisers, which formed the Edinburgh sub-class. Edinburgh saw a great deal of combat service during the Second World War, especially in the North Sea and the Arctic Sea, where she was sunk by torpedoes in 1942.
HMS Nigeria was a Crown Colony-class light cruiser of the Royal Navy completed early in World War II and served throughout that conflict. She was named for the British colony of Nigeria.
Operation Claymore was the code name for a British commando raid on the Lofoten Islands in Norway during the Second World War. The Lofoten Islands were an important centre for the production of fish oil and glycerine, used in the German war economy. The landings were carried out on 4 March 1941, by the men of No. 3 Commando, No. 4 Commando, a Royal Engineers Section and 52 men from the Norwegian Independent Company 1. Supported by the 6th Destroyer Flotilla and two troop transports of the Royal Navy, the force made an unopposed landing and generally continued to meet no opposition. The original plan was to avoid contact with German forces and inflict the maximum of damage to German-controlled industry. They achieved their objective of destroying fish oil factories and some 3,600 t of oil and glycerine. The British experienced only one accident; an officer injuring himself with his own revolver and returned with some 228 German prisoners, 314 loyal Norwegian volunteers and a number of Quisling regime collaborators.
PQ 17 was the code name for an Allied Arctic convoy during the Second World War. On 27 June, the ships sailed from Hvalfjord, Iceland for the port of Arkhangelsk in the Soviet Union. The convoy was located by German forces on 1 July, after which it was shadowed continuously and attacked. The First Sea Lord Admiral Dudley Pound, acting on information that German surface units, including the German battleship Tirpitz, were moving to intercept, ordered the covering force away from the convoy and told the convoy to scatter. Due to vacillation by Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, the Tirpitz raid never materialised. The convoy was the first large joint Anglo-American naval operation under British command; in Churchill's view this encouraged a more careful approach to fleet movements.
HMS Jackal was a J-class destroyer of the Royal Navy. Completed in 1939, Jackal served in the Norwegian campaign and the Dunkirk evacuation before being deployed to the Mediterranean in 1941. Jackal took part in the Battle of Crete, and was scuttled after being heavily damaged by German bombers on 12 May 1942.
USS Fairfax (DD-93) was a Wickes-class destroyer in the United States Navy during World War I, later transferred to the Royal Navy as HMS Richmond (G88), as a Town-class destroyer.
HMS Antelope was a British A-class destroyer, which was completed for the Royal Navy in 1930. Antelope served throughout the Second World War, taking part in the sinking of three enemy submarines and in Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of French North Africa.
The Arctic convoys of World War II were oceangoing convoys which sailed from the United Kingdom, Iceland, and North America to northern ports in the Soviet Union – primarily Arkhangelsk (Archangel) and Murmansk in Russia. There were 78 convoys between August 1941 and May 1945, sailing via several seas of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans, with two gaps with no sailings between July and September 1942, and March and November 1943.
This is a timeline for the Battle of the Atlantic (1939–1945) in World War II.
HMS Trinidad was a Royal Navy Crown Colony-class cruiser. She was lost while serving in the Arctic on convoy duty after being damaged escorting PQ 13 in 1942.
The Mediterranean U-boat Campaign lasted from about 21 September 1941 to 19 September 1944 during the Second World War. Malta was an active British base strategically located near supply routes from Europe to North Africa. Axis supply convoys across the Mediterranean Sea suffered severe losses, which in turn threatened the fighting ability of the Axis armies in North Africa. The Allies were able to keep their North African armies supplied. The Kriegsmarine tried to isolate Malta but later it concentrated its U-boat operations on disrupting Allied landing operations in southern Europe.
PQ 13 was a British Arctic convoy that delivered war supplies from the Western Allies to the USSR during World War II. The convoy was subject to attack by German air, U-boat and surface forces and suffered the loss of five ships, plus one escort vessel. Fifteen ships arrived safely.
HMS Forester was one of nine F-class destroyers built for the Royal Navy during the early 1930s. Although assigned to the Home Fleet upon completion, the ship was attached to the Mediterranean Fleet in 1935–36 during the Abyssinia Crisis. A few weeks after the start of World War II in September 1939, she helped to sink one German submarine and then participated in the Second Battle of Narvik during the Norwegian Campaign of 1940. Forester was sent to Gibraltar in mid-1940 and formed part of Force H where she participated in the attack on the Vichy French ships at Mers-el-Kébir and the Battle of Dakar between escorting the aircraft carriers of Force H as they flew off aircraft for Malta and covering convoys resupplying and reinforcing the island until late 1941. During this time the ship helped to sink another German submarine.
HMS Marigold was a Flower-class corvette of the Royal Navy.
The Indian Ocean had long been an important maritime trade route between European nations and their colonial territories in East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, British India, Indochina, the East Indies (Indonesia), and Australia. Naval presence was dominated by the Royal Navy Eastern Fleet and the Royal Australian Navy as World War II began with a major portion of the Royal Netherlands Navy operating in the Dutch East Indies and the Red Sea Flotilla of the Italian Regia Marina operating from Massawa.
HMS Mahratta was an M-class destroyer of the Royal Navy which served during World War II. Begun as Marksman, she was damaged while under construction, and dismantled to be rebuilt on a new slipway. She was launched as Mahratta in 1942, completed in 1943, and quickly pressed into service. After a short but busy career in the North Atlantic and Arctic, largely guarding merchant convoys, she was torpedoed and sunk on 25 February 1944.
Convoy PQ 15 was an Arctic convoy sent from Iceland by the Western Allies to aid the Soviet Union during World War II. It sailed in late April 1942, reaching the Soviet northern ports after air attacks that sank three ships. Twenty-two ships arrived safely.
Convoy PQ 8 was an Arctic convoy sent from Great Britain by the Western Allies to aid the Soviet Union during World War II. It sailed in January 1942 and arrived in Murmansk with the loss of one escort sunk, and one ship damaged.
Convoy QP 11 was an Arctic Convoy of World War II, made up of merchant ships returning from the Soviet Union to Britain after delivering their cargo to the Soviet Union. The convoy consisted of 13 merchant ships, escorted by 18 warships. The convoy was attacked by German destroyers and submarines, suffering the loss of one merchant ship as well as the light cruiser HMS Edinburgh. The German forces lost the destroyer Z7 Hermann Schoemann.
Convoy QP 10 was an Arctic convoy of World War II, consisting of empty merchant ships returning from the Soviet Union after delivering their cargo there. The convoy consisted of 16 merchant ships and an escort of nine warships. Six merchant ships from Convoy PQ 14 joined QP 10 partway through the voyage. The convoy departed Murmansk on 10 April 1942 and arrived in Reykjavik on 21 April. The convoy was attacked by German U-boats and aircraft, resulting in the loss of four merchant ships. Another ship, Stone Street, was damaged by air attack and forced to turn back to the Kola Inlet. The convoy's escorts shot down six German planes and damaged another during the course of the voyage.
Soviet submarine K-21 was a K-class submarine of the Soviet Navy during World War II.
HMS Albrighton was a Type III Hunt-class destroyer built for the British Royal Navy. She entered service in February 1942, first carrying out an attack on German ships in the English Channel then taking part in the Dieppe Raid, rescuing survivors from the sinking destroyer HMS Broke. Albrighton was next assigned to search for and destroy the German auxiliary cruiser Komet, then escorted a convoy to Gibraltar in prevision of the Allied landings in North Africa. Between December 1942 and April 1943, she participated in the sinking of three more Axis ships with the First Destroyer Flotilla. During the Normandy Landings in June 1943, Albrighton served as a headquarters ship, then sank two German trawlers in the weeks after the invasion. After being converted to a destroyer in early 1945, she was damaged in a collision with a Landing Ship, then was assigned to the British Eastern Fleet. However, the war ended before she was deployed and Albrighton went into reserve.
Gremyashchy was one of 29 Gnevny-class destroyers built for the Soviet Navy during the late 1930s. Completed in 1939, she was assigned to the Baltic Fleet and was later transferred to the Northern Fleet in 1941.