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My dad was Bill Pascoe, relieving master on the four William Cory and Bros iron ore ships and sometimes also on the two tankers. They went to Murmansk quite a bit.

I'd like to know: what were conditions like when ships docked in Murmansk in that period? Dad told me stories of those days - but a friend has memories that don't match my dad's.

I'm writing a book of fiction (for children) and would like any details I use to be accruate!

Dad said that in Murmansk, there was an armed guard at the foot or top of the gangway.

He also talked about clubs the men could go to - nice clubs with nice chaparoned girls for socializing (and maybe propagandizing?) but not sex!

He said men under 21 were not allowed to leave the ship in Murmansk.

He brought home a few odd things from the store that only foreigners could go to. I'm wondering what others may have brought home from those stores in the early sixties.

Dad brought a seven string guitar and a pair of skis!! I had them for a long time. He may not have bought these himself - Could be things that were left behind on the ship?

He rarely brought anything home--other than stories! I wish I could remember them all!

I'd love to hear anybody else's memories or stories of Murmansk in the early sixties!
Thanks --
Jackie Pascoe
 

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Hello Jackie.
I was at Murmansk several times on a Denholm Ore Carrier 1968-69
I was a Deck Cadet and was 20 when I went. I was able to go ashore.
There was an armed guard at the bottom of the gangway. To go ashore I think we had to hand him our Seamans Book which he kept in a portable desk and he gave us a shore pass. We had already 'Subbed' Roubles from the Chief Steward who had exchanged GB £ at a rate of 1/Rouble. No foreign currency was allowed ashore because you would be approached in the street and offered 10roubles/£! More if you bargained. Most of us did take some £s ashore. Lots of the supervisors and workers were women.The 'intourist' club for seamen had a bar where you could buy beer, vodka and champagne - all from USSR. There were girls there in the evening. I met a few and got to know one quite well. She was an English teacher from Georgia in the south. Hated the cold. Murmansk was one of the few places they could meet native English speakers to practice. She told me she had to write a report for intelligence after...did I know anything worth reporting! I didn't.. so made stuff up. I walked her back to her apartment block at the top of the town but she apologised that she couldn't ask me in as she would be reported. Damm.During the evening we all had to attend an instructive lecture in an attached hall. I recall one, with slides, on 'Architecture in Murmansk' The in tourist shop was full of really cheap stuff. Vodka of course, shotguns, fur coats and hats (for men and women, cameras. Could well have been guitars and skis. All the Russians I met were friendly and curious about us. This was the height of the Cold War. I remember the distinctive smell of Russian cigarettes and the disinfectant in the public buildings and snow 2 metres high piled at the side of the roads. Also mid winter the cold and darkness apart from a couple of hours twilight mid day. Hope this helps.
 

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Hello, Ian,
Your memories are wonderfully helpful - giving me more than I asked for - the details about handing in your seaman's book and the weather conditions and all the rest. Thanks so much for taking the time to share all that with me!

You must be a writer, giving me those details especially the smells!

Gratefully yours
Jackie
 

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Was also there on a Denholms Ore carrier 1968 2nd.mate on the Clarkeden.
Thing that sticks in my mind is when making fast on arrival , the linespersons
were all young women. Were taken ashore to some sort of club and given plenty to drink. Got into an argument about the public school system in England and got escorted back to the ship before the evening was ended.
Glad to have left the place.
 

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Logged in as beverlonian Title: Not Murmansk but Archangel

Not Murmansk but Archangel c.1979, yes armed guard at the gangway (this was usual at any east-european port). Rep from the seaman's club took us on a bus tour of the city - this is the northern housing estate, this is the eastern..., this is the western..., you get the idea! All the same blocks of flats. At the seaman's club usual facilities. They showed a film, WW2 - two Russian soldiers holding off a Panzer division and winning. Crew from a German ship groaned - here we go again! Library full of propaganda books - "take as many as you want - they're free" - think I still have them! The other thing I recall was roads made of wood and I've never seen so much timber for export in my life.
 

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Jackie, no-one has mentioned, there was a midnight curfew for everyone except the Master. Not sure what he would have done with an "all nightery" in Murmansk which was a bit of a dump. The curfew was enforced in all Russian ports.

Before sailing they used to search the ship too - looking for stowaways and everyone had to present themselves in case they'd thought of staying ashore, I suppose.

John T
 

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Armed guards

Not Murmansk but Archangel c.1979, yes armed guard at the gangway (this was usual at any east-european port). Rep from the seaman's club took us on a bus tour of the city - this is the northern housing estate, this is the eastern..., this is the western..., you get the idea! All the same blocks of flats. At the seaman's club usual facilities. They showed a film, WW2 - two Russian soldiers holding off a Panzer division and winning. Crew from a German ship groaned - here we go again! Library full of propaganda books - "take as many as you want - they're free" - think I still have them! The other thing I recall was roads made of wood and I've never seen so much timber for export in my life.
Seem to remember armed guards at the top and bottom of the gangways of Fyffes ships in Kingston, Jamaica in the 60/70's. Better run ashore than Murmansk or Archangel I should think.
 

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Seem to remember armed guards at the top and bottom of the gangways of Fyffes ships in Kingston, Jamaica in the 60/70's. Better run ashore than Murmansk or Archangel I should think.
You could do alright with a pair of jeans or a Beatles record in Murmansk. The weather was better in Kingston though.

John T
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Was also there on a Denholms Ore carrier 1968 2nd.mate on the Clarkeden.
Thing that sticks in my mind is when making fast on arrival , the linespersons
were all young women. Were taken ashore to some sort of club and given plenty to drink. Got into an argument about the public school system in England and got escorted back to the ship before the evening was ended.
Glad to have left the place.
Hi JC! and thanks for your memories! I have a question. You say "the linespersons were all young women." I don't know what linespersons are - can you explain that a bit more?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Not Murmansk but Archangel c.1979, yes armed guard at the gangway (this was usual at any east-european port). Rep from the seaman's club took us on a bus tour of the city - this is the northern housing estate, this is the eastern..., this is the western..., you get the idea! All the same blocks of flats. At the seaman's club usual facilities. They showed a film, WW2 - two Russian soldiers holding off a Panzer division and winning. Crew from a German ship groaned - here we go again! Library full of propaganda books - "take as many as you want - they're free" - think I still have them! The other thing I recall was roads made of wood and I've never seen so much timber for export in my life.
Funny about the tour of the identical boring housing areas. I wonder if those propaganda book/lets you still have are worth something now!

Regarding wooden roads - nice detail! Here in the redwoods area of California, I live up a single track road that is a paved over logging road made of - yes, redwood timbers!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Jackie, no-one has mentioned, there was a midnight curfew for everyone except the Master. Not sure what he would have done with an "all nightery" in Murmansk which was a bit of a dump. The curfew was enforced in all Russian ports.

Before sailing they used to search the ship too - looking for stowaways and everyone had to present themselves in case they'd thought of staying ashore, I suppose.

John T
Interesting about the curfew. Maybe some captains were secretly KGB agents .... hehehhe!

Thanks for that detail!
 

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Port of Murmansj in the early 60's

Hi JC! and thanks for your memories! I have a question. You say "the linespersons were all young women." I don't know what linespersons are - can you explain that a bit more?
The people who catch the heaving lines and make the vessel fast on arrival. No big story - just what it says "Lines Person". Mostly a male domain but that logic never applied to the old USSR. . In many Russian ports back then, majority of the stevedores were female. Big, hairy and sweaty. Not my best memory.
 

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Port of Murmansj in the early 60's

Thanks - I thought that's what it meant - takes some muscle, that job!!
They had plenty of that. Years ago I spent some weeks loading at the port of Igarka. It is about 100 miles north of the Artic Circle and about 400+ miles down the River Yenisei. Right across the top of Russia and down into the middle of Siberia. It has a few nicknames none of which bear repeating here. All the labour were female, all big and strong as oxes. Feminity and good looks were thin on the ground. Interesting but not the most pleasant experience.
 

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We did the Murmansk run in the early 70's, November through to January. Things had not improved any.
The guards at the bottom of the gangway were only kids, rarely older than 16/17. I remember one looking at my discharge book and comparing my face to a page of the record section rather than the image on page 2.

We were not allowed up the road without a chaperone. Our regular "Lady" was called Svetlana. She always gave the groups she was escorting a running propaganda tour.

My real memory of the place was the greyness. Grey warships, grey buildings, grey uniformed guards and an overcast grey sky.
 

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I was second mate on the Duncraig, another Denholm ore carrier, when we visited Murmansk in 1971. Security was tight, armed guards on the gangway plus patrol boats on the river. All clearly designed to prevent unauthorised access to the ship. They said it was to prevent unauthorised access to the shore. Even going ashore to read the draft as we loaded was difficult due to language barrier.It was a grim, grey place with shipwrecks (from the WW2?) all the way up the river. Arch Buntain
 
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