Operation Lorry

This was a British naval undertaking by elements of Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser’s Home Fleet to deliver to Murmansk personnel, supplies, mail and RAF equipment for the British units (including a Supermarine Spitfire-equipped RAF photo-reconnaissance squadron monitoring the German battleship Tirpitz in the Altafjord of German-occupied northern Norway) associated with the defence of Arctic convoys (24 August/4 September 1943).

The delivery task was allocated to two destroyers which were to run straight through to Murmansk.

After loading at Rosyth on 24 August, Mahratta departed for Scapa Flow in the Orkney islands group where, two days later, she met Musketeer, which had already loaded at that base. The two destroyers departed Scapa Flow during the afternoon of the same day, and reached the Skálafjørður in the Færoe islands group to refuel before departing for the Kola inlet. Cover was provided to the west of Bjørnøya by the 10th Cruiser Squadron’s Belfast and Norfolk, which had departed the Hvalfjörður in south-western Iceland, together with the destroyer Impulsive, on 28 August. The two relief destroyers reached the Kola inlet early on 31 August, unloaded and sailed during the afternoon of the same day for the Skálafjørður.

A U-boat was sighted on the following day, but otherwise the passage was uneventful and the destroyers arrived on 3 September at the Skálafjørður, where they fuelled before departing to reach Scapa Flow on 4 September. The cruiser force left the covering area on 1 September, and had returned to the Hvalfjörður by 3 September. The German battleship and several destroyers were at sea, but missed these British naval movements.