The Russian Arctic Convoy Project and Friends of the Devon and Cornwall Police Heritage Trust – two very significant historical collections

Monday 13 May 2019

With a keen interest in the history of policing in Devon and Cornwall and World War II, John Casson is helping two charities, one at each end of the United Kingdom.  

For almost ten years, from 2004 to 2013, John Casson was the chairman of the Slapton Sands Memorial Tank, an organisation dedicated to the memory of 749 American servicemen who tragically died during Exercise Tiger, the live-fire practice landings for D-Day off the coast of south Devon.

Through a mutual friend, Diana Mackie, John was introduced to Peter Harrison, who, with his family, has dedicated many years to the memory of those who were involved with the Russian Arctic Convoys, which left from Loch Ewe in Scotland, near to where Peter and his family live, during World War II.

Russian Arctic Convoy annual memorial service, Cove, Loch Ewe, Saturday 11 May 2019

Back row, left to right: John Casson: Jens-Peter Voss, German Consul General,  Andrey Pritsepov, Russian Consul General: Janet Bowen, Lord  Lieutenant, Ross and Cromarty: Francis Russell, Co-Chairman, RACP

Front row, five Russian Arctic Convoy veterans  

The result, at Aultbea on the shores of Loch Ewe, is a fascinating museum dedicated to the Russian Arctic Convoys and the sacrifices that were made. A charity called the Russian Arctic Convoy Project (RACP) organises the museum and other related activities.

Last year, John was invited to join RACP as a trustee and co-chairman – an invitation he was very honoured and delighted to accept. There are exciting plans to refurbish and extend the museum and to continue to organise an annual memorial on the shores of Loch Ewe.

Back in the South West, where he lives, John is an honorary life member of the Friends of the Devon and Cornwall Police Heritage Trust, which oversees a huge collection of police memorabilia from both the Devon and Cornwall Police and the police forces that existed prior to that in the two counties from the time police forces were formed in the early 1800s.

This fascinating collection does not presently have a museum and has faced many critical challenges.

John – a former Devon and Cornwall Constabulary police officer with substantial charity and fundraising experience – offered to help, and, since April 2018, he has been closely advising the Friends’ strategic advisory group, which is under the chairmanship of Andy Bickley, a former Devon and Cornwall Police assistant chief constable.

‘Real progress has been made with both RACP and the Friends’ strategic advisory group over the last year,’ said John, ‘and I am delighted to be making a significant contribution working closely with two truly dynamic charities.’