Winter 1943. Teenagers Francis, Joseph and Stephen are Royal Navy recruits on their first mission at sea during the Second World War. Their ship is part of an Arctic convoy sailing to Russia to deliver supplies to the Soviets. The convoys have to navigate treacherous waters, sailing through a narrow channel between the Arctic ice pack and German bases on the Norwegian coast. Faced with terrifying enemy attacks from both air and sea, as well as life-threatening cold, gales and pack ice, will all three boys make it home again?
Published by Barrington Stoke 6 May 2021. Press Release here.
Preview first chapter – email requests here.
The title refers to the Arctic Star medal that was awarded to British and Commonwealth forces who served on these ships north of the Arctic Circle during the Second World War, in recognition of the reality that service on the Arctic convoys was entirely different from other tours and was characterised by particularly severe conditions, described by Winston Churchill as “the worst journey in the world”.
Researching Arctic Star
Rooted in the real-life story of the Arctic convoys, Arctic Star was researched with the support of HMS Belfast, the Imperial War Museum and The Russian Arctic Convoy Museum .
I’ve collaborated with the Imperial War Museum for a few years now and by accessing their amazing resources I have done my best to tell the story of the Arctic convoys. I listened to hours of interviews with sailors, watched films and studied photographs and art from the convoys, as well as visiting HMS Belfast on which the book is set.
I have never researched anything more terrifying that servicemen and women have been involved in – and I’ve researched a lot. Anyone who earned the Arctic Star medal has my absolute respect.
My research has taken me from Plymouth, England to Loch Ewe, Scotland …
And thanks to the Imperial War Museums for their amazing audio archive of naval testimonies and for giving me access to HMS Belfast.
Writing Arctic Star
The book’s main characters – Francis, Joseph and Stephen – start out on a fictional flower-class corvette on the first and second convoys and then finish up on HMS Belfast in the third convoy.
I chose to set Arctic Star partly as an amalgamation of different ships’ experiences and then as a very accurate portrayal of HMS Belfast in the Battle of North Cape so that children could fully comprehend how dangerous it was aboard the Arctic Convoys.
If you want to be the first to know more about Arctic Star and get a first chapter, please use the form below. Please be patient. Our replies are not automated so you will get a personal reply.
School resources – under development
HMS Belfast here.
The Arctic Convoys here.
The Russian Arctic Convoy Museum here.
The Royal Navy Research Archive here.
For more about what I am currently up to, follow my tweets or tweet me @tompalmerauthor
More about all my other books for children here
Schools bumper book pack and class set offers here.