Song from a Russian Convoy

Petty Officer Murdanie Macritchie, back row, far right
Petty Officer Murdanie Macritchie, back row, far right
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This song was written by Petty Officer Murdanie Macritchie, Brenish, whilst serving during the Second War on HMS Cape Palliser escorting merchant ships on a Russian convoy, PQ-15, from Iceland to Murmansk.

PQ-15 (not PQ-16, as previously thought) sailed from Iceland on 26 April 1942, reaching Kola Inlet on 5 May, after several air and U-Boot attacks.

For the return journey, HMS Cape Palliser joined convoy QP-12 as an escort, arriving back in Iceland on 29 May. En route, one day near Bear Island, convoy PQ-16 and homeward bound convoy QP-12 were incessantly attacked by 108 waves of German aircraft.

Seven vessels were lost including SS Lowther Castle, SS Empire Purcell and SS Empire Lawrence. SS Empire Purcell, on her maiden voyage, was loaded with ammunition and blew up when hit by two bombs. The Ocean Voice was also badly damaged.

Murdanie Macritchie survived the war and was ordained a minister in the Church of Scotland.

This week’s Stornoway Gazette includes an interview with the late Sammy Macleod who was also part of the Arctic Convoys. There is currently a campaign ongoing to for a medals to be created for those who were part of the convoys taking supplies to Russia.

An till mi gu bràth gu Eilean mo Ghràidh

‘S don a’ bhaile a rinn mi fhàgail

Faic mi tuilleadh le mo shùilean beanntan sgire Uig

No Mealisbhal ag èirigh an àrda?

An cuir mi gu bràth mo ghuaillean ri bàt

Ga cur sios gu sàl air Mol Innis?

An cuir me tuilleadh na clèibh aig a’ Sgeir Lèith

Faic mise tuilleadh Mol Bhrèinis?

An dìrich mi tuilleadh an àrd dhan a’ bheinn

A thrusadh na caoraich a-nuas?

Am faic mi iad tuilleadh cruinn anns an fhaing

An cluinn mi tuilleadh mèilich nan uan?

Am faic me tuilleadh na mnathan a’ deaschadh biadh

‘S ghrian os mo chionn a’ deàrrsadh?

Faic me tuilleadh chlann nighean a chleachd a bhith ann

An cluinn mise tuilleadh an gàire?

An suidh mi tuilleadh mar a b’ àbhaist Latha na Sàbaid

A dh’ èisdeachd na fìrinn ga leughadh?

An cluinn me tuilleadh an t-seinn a bha leamsa cho binn?

Suidh mi tuilleadh ’s taigh choinneamh am Breinis?

Faic mi tuilleadh mo mhàthair ’s m’ athair a dh’ fhàg mi

Nach robh idir doigheil nuar a dh’ fhalbh mi?

Faic mi iad tuilleadh a-muigh anns an iodhlann

‘S leantainn a dh’ obair gu anmoch?

An-dràsta tha mi shuas anns an talamh fuar

‘S fios air tighinn oirnn dhol gu fàirge

Gu robh na luingean nis cruinn ’s nuair a thigeadh an oidhche

Gu feumadh sinn gluasad gu falbh leo’.

Chaidh an sgiobair bho rùm a shuidheachadh cùrs,

Thubhairt e rium gu b’ ann Murmansk a bha dùil ruinn,

Dh’ fhaighnich mi dha càit idir robh an t-àit’

No’m bitheadh fada gus a ruigeadh sinn thall ann.

Nuair a thàinig an uair chaidh na luingean air ghluas’d

Tè an dèidh tè ann an ordugh

B’ e geamhradh a bh’ ann ’s cha robh ann ach an oidhche

‘S bha cabhadh a-nuas oirnn a’ dortadh.

Nuair a ràinig sinn thall cha robh uiread againn ann,

Rinn an nàmhaid gu làidir ar bualadh

Na luingean bha gan giùlan nis mar ciste bha gan dùnadh

‘S iadnan laighe air ùrlar na fairge.

Ach ’s e m’ ùrnaidh ’s mo mhiann gum bitheadh mo bheatha air a dion

‘S gun dèanainn seirbhis don Righ a tha shuas,

‘S gun deidhinn am measg dhaoine chum an Soisgeul a sgaoileadh

‘S gun innsinn mu Shlanaighear an t-sluaigh.

An till mi gu bràth gu Eilean mo Ghràidh

‘S don a’ bhaile a rinn mi fhàgail?

Faic me tuilleach le mo shùilean beanntan sgire Uig

No Mealisbhal ag èirigh an àrda?