Diary kept by Thomas Edward Chilvers on the EMPIRE BAFFIN during a voyage from Middlesbrough to Murmansk, 1942.
|Gallery location||Not on display|
|Biographical details||Tommy Chilvers was born at Redcar, Yorkshire, in 1911. He appears to have first followed his father's profession in working on dredgers of the Tees Conservancy Commission. He was a member of the Communist Party in Teeside and served with the International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War. During the Second World War he was a merchant seaman. He was also a talented artist and one of his oil paintings is with the Marx Memorial Library in London.|
|Description||Small notebook containing a diary kept by Thomas Edward Chilvers as a merchant seaman on the EMPIRE BAFFIN (1941), covering the period from 3 May 1942 to 10 July 1942.
The EMPIRE BAFFIN departed from Dent’s Wharf at Middlesbrough and later joined the Arctic convoy PQ 16 which left Reykjavik on 20 May and arrived at Murmansk on 30 May. On the return voyage she left Murmansk on 27 June and was in the convoy QP 13 which arrived at Loch Ewe on 8 July.
Chilvers describes the ship’s daily routine, including gun and lifeboat drill, the sighting of enemy submarines, and discussions about communism with other members of the crew. He describes attacks by German aircraft on the convoy and the loss of the LOWTHER CASTLE (1937). He records his impressions of Murmansk, the experience of being in air raid shelters during the bombing of the city, and the spirit of the Russian people. There are references to two passengers on the EMPIRE BAFFIN, the author Alexander Werth and the Daily Mirror correspondent Marion Shaw, both going to Moscow to report for the British press.
The diary also contains some ink sketches and notes made by Chilvers in later life. The sketches show an aircraft being catapulted from the CAM ship EMPIRE LAWRENCE (1941), a torpedo bomber attack on the LOWTHER CASTLE, and various bomb shelters in Russia.