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Keith Allan

British High Commissioner to Mauritius

Part of UK in Russia [St Petersburg]

15th May 2017

Loch Ewe

Commemorating the heroic sacrifice of the veterans of the Arctic Convoys of World War Two has been an important part of my role in St Petersburg over the past four years. I was delighted and honoured to be invited to participate in special events at Loch Ewe in remote North Western Scotland on 6-7 May as part of year-long commemorations of the 75th anniversary of the convoys. Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal and veterans had visited Arkhangelsk in Russia in August 2016.

Loch Ewe is where many of the convoys gathered before making the perilous journey through freezing Arctic waters and German blockades to deliver essential supplies to the Soviet cities of Murmansk and Arkhangelsk. Loch Ewe’s remote and isolated location was why it was chosen for the hugely important task of gathering and preparing the convoys for their journeys.

Loch Ewe is isolated but it is also spectacularly beautiful. It was a lovely evening as the sun set and I made the drive from Inverness to Loch Ewe in the company of one of our RAF veterans of the convoys who recalled his brief stay at Loch Ewe back in 1941. He had joined the first convoy, ‘Dervish’. On such a peaceful, calm evening it was hard to imagine what must have been going through the minds of those thousands of brave sailors, airmen and soldiers who were waiting to set sail across Arctic seas for the Soviet Union. Excitement, apprehension, fear? I suspect a bit of everything.

Many British and Allied veterans, including a number from Russia, made the journey to Loch Ewe for the events. We were also pleased to see Russian maritime sea cadets who had sailed to Loch Ewe in their training vessel, the Yunyi Baltiets, which had been in the news earlier that week after rescuing a clam diver (http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-39800204). We were also pleased to see the Lord Lieutenant of Ross & Cromarty, Skye & Lochalsh, Janet Bowen. Events were organised by the Russian Arctic Convoy Project (RACP), which is a charity based at Loch Ewe.


Highlights of the weekend were the opening of a new exhibition centre and a memorial service at a place called Cove which overlooks the entrance to Loch Ewe. I was delighted to open the exhibition centre with my colleague the Russian Consul General in Edinburgh, Andrey Pritsepov. The centre has fantastic displays and artefacts, and is well worth a visit. Later that day we gathered at Cove where we took part in a memorial service and laid wreaths. It was a very moving occasion as the band of the Royal Marines Rosyth played Last Post and we remembered those who had sacrificed so much. Members of the Sea Cadets and the Air Training Corps joined the Russian cadets. There was also a flypast by a Spitfire as a Royal Navy minesweeper patrolled the entrance to the Loch below.


The new exhibition centre at Loch Ewe will help to ensure that the memory of the sacrifice by the veterans lives on, and will inspire future generations to forge new partnerships in the spirit of the example set by our brave veterans of the convoys. The Chairman of the RACP, George Milne, and his friends and colleagues did a fantastic job organising the weekend events at Loch Ewe.

There were so many wonderful memories from the Spitfire flypasts to the service at Cove to simply enjoying the company of veterans as we navigated the winding roads around Loch Ewe. I will never forget it. Finally, and most importantly, I take this opportunity to thank all of the British and Allied sailors, soldiers and airmen, including from the Soviet Union, who sacrificed so much. We are, and always will be, very grateful.


1 comment on “Loch Ewe

  1. Dear Keith,

    Thank you so much for attending our event, opening our new Exhibition Centre with RFCG Andrey Pritsepov and laying a wreath on behalf of HM Consulate General in St. Petersburg. Your moving words and photos say it all. Haste ye back.

    Best wishes for the future.

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About Keith Allan

I have been British High Commissioner in Mauritius since August 2017. I was previously HM Consul General in St Petersburg, Russia, and used this blog to share my thoughts on…

I have been British High Commissioner in Mauritius since August 2017. I was previously HM Consul General in St Petersburg, Russia, and used this blog to share my thoughts on shared history and visits to cities and regions throughout Russia. In Mauritius, I will look to highlight some of the cultural and historical relations between the UK and Mauritius. Prior to St Petersburg, I was HM Ambassador to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, and also had another posting to Central Asia (Tashkent) in the late 90s. I was also HM Consul General in Miami and have worked in Trinidad & Tobago and Botswana, so Mauritius is not my first posting on an island or in Africa. I was born in Glasgow and am married with three children who thankfully also love to travel. You can also follow my activities on Twitter @HCKeithAllan