Bob Cowan and the Arctic Convoys (videos)

Bob Cowan

Bob Cowan, was born on July 5th 1919 and grew up in Moss Side. He died on 25th Sep 2016.  Together with his wife Joyce he was an active member of Chorlton Good Neighbours for many years. He was a veteran of the World War 2 Arctic convoys and we have featured many stories about our successful attempts to ensure that Bob got the Ushakov medal from the Russian government to acknowledge the bravery of those sailors who kept the Russians supplied with armaments to enable them to fight the Nazis in the darkest period of WW2


Bob Cowan

Bob was in the navy from 1940 to 1946, starting as an ordinary seamen and then climbing through the ranks – able seaman, leading seaman and ending up as a petty officer

Bob was aboard the tribal class destroyer, Mashona when she took part in operations resulting in the sinking of the Bismarck on 27 May 1941. She came under heavy air attack from the Luftwaffe while returning to port the following day, and was bombed and sunk off the coast of Galway with the loss of 48 men. It seems it was a sitting duck as it was proceeding very slowly due to lack of fuel. Bob was swimming around in the water for 30 mins or so before he was picked up by HMS Tartar which took the survivors to Greenock

The Arctic Convoys

“The Arctic convoys, described by Winston Churchill as the most dangerous of the entire war, transported four million tons of crucial supplies and munitions to Russia between 1941 and 1945, supporting the Red Army in the conflict. As Germany occupied Norway, the British ships had to take a treacherous northerly route, often skirting the Arctic ice floes, before dropping south into Russian ports including Murmansk and Archangel. In bitter cold, the merchant seamen and their Royal Navy escorts endured repeated attacks from both U-boats and Luftwaffe bombers, often sustaining heavy losses.

Just under 3,000 British seamen were killed during the convoys, the majority never recovered from the icy waters. More than 100 British ships were sunk during the campaign” Bob Cowan was on two of these convoys PQ16 and PQ18, In each a third of the ships in each convoy were sunk

Bob  was eventually discharged from the navy on Jan 1st 1946 exactly 6 years after he had joined the navy. He later trained as a company accountant and worked as a manager at Procter and Gamble in Trafford Park until his retirement

Here are links to some of the stories and videos about Bob and the fight for recognistion of the Arctic Convoy sailors

bob Cowan

Bob Cowan

Chorlton’s Arctic Convoy veterans on Granada Reports

WW2 Event at Chorlton Good Neighbours

  Arctic Convoy medal presentation at Manchester Town Hall

   Bob to get Arctic Convoy Medal

The Arctic Convoy Story

Arctic Convoy Event at Chorlton Good Neighbours


Another Russian Arctic Convoy medal for Bob Cowan

Bernard Leach