A CAPTIVATED audience were left fascinated by a first-hand account of the Second World War experiences of Shanklin Royal Navy veteran Alec Penstone at the Museum of Ryde last week.

Alec, 98, recently saw the publication of his autobiography, entitled My Ten and a Half Arctic Convoys, with a companion DVD available.

He took part in the March Past at the Cenotaph in London for the first time on Sunday. 

The Arctic Convoys veteran recounted his early life and days at the beginning of the war, from when he started work at the age of 14 and living in Tottenham when war was declared.

It was at that time Alec immediately volunteered as a Air Raid Precaution (ARP) warden. 

That was the prelude to a fascinating life of adventure, risk, luck and survival. 

"Alec's memory is phenomenal, with tales he recalled in the short time we had with him, which portrayed his stoic attitude to what he was faced with," said Bob Cooper, who attended the talk. 

"Stories of his first ventures in the navy and being sent to Scotland to join the fleet, that would deliver supplies to the Russian forces in the Arctic, were, to us today, harrowing."

The Arctic Convoys was a monumental aid effort, mounted by the Allies, through one of the most perilous theatres of the war.

Supplies were transported to Russia by sea, carried by the Merchant Navy, who would be escorted by warships and provided with air cover. 

The route chosen was the most direct, but also the most dangerous. 

It took the ships very close to the northern coast of Norway, which was occupied by the Germans and patrolled by aircraft, surface vessels and U-boats. 

Ryde Historic Society chairman, Brian Harris, said: "For Alec to come and support the Museum of Ryde and give us an insight to life during those years, is greatly appreciated — reinforcing the history the museum has, of exhibits of life in Ryde in the past. 

"With so many more insights Alec has, we hope to have him talk to us again in the New Year." 

Alec's book, My Ten and a Half Arctic Convoys and DVD are available through: jamesking5641@gmail.com