1,000 sailors are released from Soviet captivity and join the Polish Navy in G.B. Carnage in the Battle of the Atlantic continues with convoys PQ15 and PQ16 to Murmansk. Channel Operations include the ill-fated Dieppe raid in August. ORP Kujawiak hits a mine and is sunk on a Malta-bound convoy in the Mediterranean.

Józef Jarząbek

Ordinary Seaman See Wall of Names

Convoy PQ16 to Murmansk, 25th-28th May.

Jozef Jarzabek

ORP Garland is attacked and damaged by German bombers during Arctic Convoy PQ16 from Iceland to Murmansk, 25th – 28th May with a loss of 22 dead and 46 wounded seamen and officers.

ORP Garland in Arctic Convoy PQ16

On the 21st May 1942 ORP Garland left Hvalfjord in Iceland under the protection of the Local Escort, meeting the Ocean Escort on 23rd May to escort the convoy PQ16 to Murmansk. At this time of year the convoy would be operating in perpetual daylight of the arctic summer. This lessened the effectiveness of U-boat attack, but made round-the-clock air attack more likely. It also increased the chance of early detection by German reconnaissance aircraft.

On the 25th May Garland was, indeed, spotted by a FW200 reconnaissance plan, which commenced shadowing. That evening the German air force began a series of attacks and these continued for the next five days, until the convoy was in range of Soviet fighter cover. On 27th May Garland was attacked by seven Ju-88s. One bomb and landed 10 yards off the starboard side of the ship. Garland’s crews of ‘A’ and ’B’ guns and the starboard Oerlikon and .50-calibre machine guns were decimated – 22 were killed and 37 wounded. The ship’s fire-control director and rangefinder were destroyed. The ship was so severely damaged that she became known as HMS “Pepperpot” by “Jack Tar”. Many Polish sailors were killed and maimed escorting supplies to their enemy, the Soviet Union. Ironically, most of Garland’s crew had been captives in Stalin’s gulags. Józef Jarzabek of ORP Garland was injured but survived. His friend Czesław was killed. Alek Niezynski’s legs were saved by a Russian doctor who operated without an anaesthetic.

According to Polish Navy historian Michael Peszke, the story of Garland’s Murmansk convoy was heroic:

There were many heroes in that convoy and many on the Garland, but one who deserves special mention was the ship’s surgeon, por. Lek. W. Zabron, who worked for 30 hours by himself tending the many wounded and dying, while the destroyer was under constant battle stations under enemy air attack. Eight more air attacks were repelled by the Polish warship before the crew could stand down and permission given for ship to depart for Murmansk. On 29th May Garland reached Murmansk. The 40 wounded were taken ashore to a Soviet hospital, which was doing its best to cope with the avalanche of wounded sailors from the Convoy PQ-15, as well as from the front lines, a mere 50 miles away. The 25 dead seamen were buried at sea. One of the ironies of the situation was the serious injuries suffered by Kpt. Mar. Tadeusz Kaminski, who had only recently been released from the Soviet Gulags and had now lost his leg on a mission to aid the country that had imprisoned and maltreated him for two years. Emergency repairs, in which Royal Navy engineers participated, were carried out to enable the Polish destroyer to sail for the British home ports.

Source: Michael Peszke

Polish and British awards were given to the crew of the Garland. Five of the crew received the highest Polish award for bravery, the Virtuti Militari.


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Survivor Testimony