Surviving the Arctic Convoys

“Gritty. Visceral. Unputdownable.” – Damien Lewis.

John’s latest book, “Surviving the Arctic Convoys – The wartime Memoir of Leading Seaman Charlie Erswell” has been picked up by the military history publisher, Pen & Sword, and has now been published in hardback (18th June 2021). It is released to coincide with the 80th anniversary of the first Arctic Convoy (Operation Dervish) which sailed from Liverpool on 12th August 1941.

After reading John’s Arctic Convoys novel, Hell and High Water, Charlie contacted John in December 2019 to offer praise for the book, especially the accuracy of what it was like to sail on those voyages. Charlie served in the Royal Navy from December 1941 until 1946 as a turret trainer on HMS Milne and in the ship’s director on HMS Savage. He saw action in the North Atlantic, Operation Torch (the invasion of North Africa), the liberation of Norway and D-Day.

The book is available from the publisher, Pen & Sword. Click here for details

It is also available from Amazon

UK customers click here

US customers click here

However, the majority of his time was spent doing the “Kola Run” – those voyages to the Russian ports of Murmansk and Archangel, escorting merchant ships delivering vital war supplies to the Soviets.

Between them, John and Charlie decided to write Charlie’s autobiography about his time in the Royal Navy during the war, and his time in the Merchant Navy for a couple of years following.

Unfortunately, Charlie passed away in October 2021 after a short illness. John was able to visit Charlie before his passing to hand over copies of the book. Charlie was a true hero and will be sadly missed by everyone who had the pleasure to have known him.

The internationally renowned author Damien Lewis (SAS Band of Brothers, Churchill’s Secret Warriors, The Nazi Hunters) says of Surviving The Arctic Convoys:

“Gritty. Visceral. Unputdownable. The story of the heroes of the Arctic Convoys is so little known, and this timely and highly authentic book does it full justice. McKay’s work is a fabulous addition to any WWII library.”

John appeared on WW2TV recently to talk about the book, Charlie and the Arctic convoys. Link below: