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Russian, British veterans of Arctic Convoys to mark VE-Day aboard HMS Belfast

May 09, 2014, 3:25 UTC+3 LONDON
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LONDON, May 09. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian and British veterans of the famous Arctic Convoys are expected to get together aboard the legendary HMS Belfast, which is permanently moored on the River Thames in London, to mark the 69th anniversary since the end of World War II operations in Europe.

The veterans of the Soviet/Russian Navy, the Royal Navy and the British merchant marine will get together to celebrate a yet another VE-Day and to pay tribute to their comrades who did not live through to this day.

The list of the guests of honor who will gather aboard the light cruiser Belfast, one of the ships that escorted the Arctic Convoys, will be the British MP Simon Hughes and former chief of the British Defense Staff, Lord David Richards. The delegation of Russian veterans includes Yuri Alexandrov, Boris Zubarev, Vladimir Lebedev, Alexander Lochagin, Ivan Lytkin, and Sergei Yakovlev.

In the course of the meeting, medals named after Fyodor Ushakov, an admiral of the Russian Imperial Navy, which the Russian government established several years ago as an award for valor and international naval cooperation, will be awarded to twenty British veterans. The first awarding ceremony was held in June 2013 after the British authorities had allowed their veterans to accept the Russian award.

After that, the Russian embassy in Britain compiled a list of more than 3,300 Britons, who will be decorated with the medal this year.

A traditional ceremony of laying flowers will be held at a monument to the Soviet citizens who died during World War II. The monument is located on in the park near the world-famous Imperial War Museum.

The program of the day will be crowned with a concert by Russian and British performers.

In May 2010, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev awarded HMS Belfast with a special diploma for the combat valor that its crew displayed during the war while defending the Arctic Convoys it escorted.

Russian representatives took an active part in a recent restoration of the cruiser. For instance, shipbuilding yards in St Petersburg manufactured and installed the masts as part of a special project.

HMS Belfast is permanently moored near the Tower Bridge since 1971. It is a subsidiary of the Imperial War museum. March 17, 2013, the cruiser that had been built in Belfast marked the 75th anniversary since the launching of the ship.

From the end of 1941 through to 1945, a total of 1,400 merchant ships - mostly British but also Soviet, American, and Dutch - delivered about 4 million tons of cargoes, including over 5,000 tanks and 7,000 warplanes to the Soviet seaports of Arkhangelsk and Murmansk under the Lend Lease program.

The British merchant marine lost 87 ships during the raids of Nazi Germany’s ships and Luftwaffe planes. The Royal Navy lost eighteen ships. All in all, about 3,000 British seamen died in the waters of the northern seas.

The staff of Russia’s Consulate General in Edinburgh will take part in a ceremony of laying flowers at the memorial to the submarine crews of the Anti-Hitler Coalition countries in the Scottish town of Dundee. The monument is devoted to the crews of wrecked submarines that were based in Dundee during World War II, including the Soviet submarine B-1 that sank in 1944.

Flowers commemorating the participants in the Arctic Convoys will also be laid in the township of Lyness on the Orkney Islands and in the town of Cove in the northwest of the country.

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