Members Meet the Author and Learn About a Little-Known WWII Operation


return to recent mtgs page

Bill GerouxThe November meeting featured author William “Bill” Geroux, an editorial writer for the Richmond Times for 25 years, and who has written numerous articles for other publications and news sites. He has conducted extensive research on the contributions of the Merchant Marine during WWII. His first book, The Mathews Men, was published in 2017, and detailed the heroics of mariners from Mathews County, VA. America was the “Arsenal of Democracy” and this required the Merchant Marine transporting war materials to the fight.. The price was high. The Merchant Marine had the highest casualty rate of any service. Its contribution to the war effort deserves great appreciation.


In 2020 Mr. Geroux continued detailing the exploits of merchant mariners in Ghost Ships of Archangel, a little-known story of an Allied convoy that carried war materials from Iceland to Murmansk in the summer of 1942. To better tell this story, Mr. Geroux sailed the waters himself, and conducted numerous interviews.


The operation had great risk. Although it was summer, icebergs were a danger, and the survival of a sailor in the fridge Arctic waters was measured in minutes. But the biggest danger was the almost 24 hours of daylight, which exposed the convoy to around the clock aircraft, U-boat, and surface ship attack.


The war in the European Theater was not going well. Continental Europe was under Nazi control, the Nazi’s were driving east towards Stalingrad, Rommel was on the offence in North Africa, and U-boats were ravaging Atlantic convoys. It was imperative to keep the USSR in the war and this meant both delivering war supplies and convincing Stalin of Allied support. So, the convoy, despite the low probability of success and the opposition of many, was dispatched. The operation ended disastrously-only 11 of the 34 merchant ships reached Murmansk.