The commander was Joe Selby from Gloucester, who continually won the first prize for telling the filthiest stories on board ship. As Aran recalls, “if I had been cold before at Skegness; it was tropical compared to the atrocious weather on voyages to Russia as sub-zero temperatures and gale force winds continued unabated. Our decks were covered with snow and ice, and of course the danger of bombers and submarines was constant. The crew was advised not to wash as the natural body oils would help against the cold, especially when they had to go on deck and axe off the ice from the armaments. There were to be no hammocks used as they were a fire hazard….we were on constant alert, so we had to sleep where we could and at times this meant sharing sleeping quarters with dead bodies, both German and British”. As the official history of the Arctic convoys show, there were terrible losses; three quarters of one convoy were lost in less than half an hour. On one momentous occasion the German battleship Ulm was sunk and the H.M.S. Onslaught took aboard the survivors. Mess tables were being used to perform surgery, and on one memorable occasion another Welsh rating, holding an amputated arm, enquired what he should do with it. The immediate reply was “throw it over board”. Many surgical procedures were performed without anaesthetic.