A veteran who has been awarded a medal for completing the “worst journey in the world” has written a memoir of his experiences in World War II.
Dennis Dent has detailed the perilous Russian convoys, including abandoning ship after two torpedo attacks, in The Early Adventures of a Young Man.
Mr Dent is one of the few remaining sailors to finally receive the Arctic Star commendation for this vital campaign more than 70 years after the mission was completed.
Mr Dent has also taken the important step of preserving his memories of this voyage, dubbed by Winston Churchill as the “worst journey in the world”, along with other campaigns for future generations.
Mr Dent, 90, of Hospital Walk in Lynn, said he was pleased to get his memories down.
He said: “Contrary to rules and regulations I did keep a diary during the war and I had that to draw on, but I could remember a lot.
“It will give others an idea of what it was like.”
Mr Dent was 14 when he joined the Boys Band of the Royal Naval School of Music and later in 1940, a day after his 18th birthday, he joined the gunnery control crew on board HMS Edinburgh.
From deep within the ship, Mr Dent would control the fire of the 12 guns on the deck. He escaped the terrible cold which affected his colleagues on deck but he was in a vulnerable position in the event of a U-boat attack.
Between 1941 and 1942, Mr Dent and the other crew members on the cruiser provided cover to the merchant navy ships which were delivering vital supplies.
The ships also brought back tonnes of Russian gold to pay for the supplies.
Within this book, Mr Dent recalls in great detail the Edinburgh’s final voyage in April 1942.
On April 30, the ship was seriously damaged after a torpedo attack and later had to be towed.
He recalls having tea in the mess hall when the “ship gave a tremendous shudder” and the “sticky stench of crude oil which was beginning to flood the mess deck.”
Mr Dent proudly writes that there was no panic as the crew members climbed a ladder but found the ship “curled up as if opened by a giant tin opener.”
The ship was completely disabled but with great effort two destroyers were able to attach ropes and chains to tow the Edinburgh back to Murmansk. But she was an easy target.
Mr Dent was on the morning watch when the message came through that three enemy destroyers had been spotted.
Then came news that a torpedo was approaching on the port side and within seconds there was another explosion.
The Edinburgh was now vulnerable to the sea on both sides which left the captain no choice but to abandon ship.
Her 900 crew members clambered over to the decks of a minesweeper as the ship listed at an angle and German shells were fired. The Edinburgh finally succumbed to another torpedo before sinking. Mr Dent writes: “It can be truly be said that if ever a ship deserved the epitaph that she went down fighting, it was certainly the case with HMS Edinburgh.”