Looking back at the important Anglo-Soviet wartime alliance

The cover of The Anglo-Soviet Alliance.

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Book review

The latest book by Arran author Colin Turbett, which tells the story of the important alliance between Britain and the Soviet Union during the Second World War, has been published.

The Anglo-Soviet Alliance, Comrades & Allies book deals with the wartime alliance with the USSR and its history and aftermath on this, the 80th anniversary, of its start in 1941.


The book, which has 100 black and white illustrations, includes recollections by Jessie Clark from Brodick.

For Colin, who has lived in Corrie for more than 30 years, it is his latest look at the Soviet Union during Second World War following Red Star at War – Victory at All Costs published last year.

From the onset of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917 until the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, Britain enjoyed an ambiguous relationship with the USSR and its people. All inter-war governments were concerned about the communist ideals of the new state and the threat they presented to British interests at home and abroad  and this was inevitably reflected amongst the general population.

However, there was a well-established British Communist Party whose fortunes were tied to the Soviet Union’s successes and failures.


The wartime alliance offered the Communists an opportunity to extend their influence and win electoral support. Or did it? There were influences at work from both sides that sought to put the importance of allied victory above competing ideology, with agreement over the need for a strong and unconditional anti-Fascist alliance.

Compromises were made and relationships formed that would have seemed strange to the pre-war observer.

There were, however, tensions throughout the period of the war. By mid-1945, the alliance was threatened by differences that reflected original ideologies that had been glossed over for the duration of the conflict and these led to a Cold War for the next 45 years.

This book, using contemporary sources as well as post-war analyses, examines these matters alongside images from the period and help us understand its intricacies. It  starts with a look at Britain’s opposition to the Bolshevik Revolution and the consolidation of the Soviet State under Lenin, then Stalin. The main body of the book goes on to give detail of the Wartime Alliance and the various forms through which it was expressed, from government led lend-lease of equipment, to voluntary aid for Russia.

It ends with the war’s aftermath and the division of the world between the influences of capitalism and the ‘really existing socialism’ of the Soviet Union and its satellites. Tensions and expectations resulted, amongst other great social events, in the launch of the Welfare State, the demise of the British Empire, the nuclear arms race and, ultimately, the end of the Soviet Union in 1991.

There will be a online book launch on May 5 at 7pm hosted by the RMT Glasgow Shipping Branch.

The free event will focus on the memory of the Arctic Convoys – the heroic and highly dangerous supply of vital war materials to Russia which started 80 years ago in August 1941 and ended in May 1945.

The author will provide a brief overview of the book with a focus on the role of British and Soviet Union seafarers. Contributions will also be heard from Igor Shchekotin from the Russian Seafarers Union and Fred Potter, a retired seafarer and RMT member from Alyth, who will talk of his father’s wartime experiences. Arctic Convoy themed poetry read by Sheila Gilmore in Scots and English and Natalia Yurievna McAllister in Russian will intersperse the speakers.

The Anglo-Soviet Alliance is available from Pen & Sword Books, RRP £25, at the reduced price of £15.99 or through the author’s website www.colinturbett.co.uk and there are a few copies in the Book & Card Centre in Brodick.

 

The cover of The Anglo-Soviet Alliance – Comrades & Allies During WW2. N_B16book01

Memories of Jessie Clark are included in the book. NO_B16book02

Author Colin Turbett. NO_B16book03