Bury St Edmunds: War veteran Arthur Andrews, 88, is finally awarded the Arctic Star Medal

Andy Andrews has one more medal to add to his collection after receiving the Arctic Star Medal from

Andy Andrews has one more medal to add to his collection after receiving the Arctic Star Medal from Prime Minister David Cameron and Russian President Vladimir Putin at a ceremony at 10 Downing Street yesterday for his service as a Navy Air Mechanic 1st Class in WWII. - Credit: Archant

A Second World War veteran has finally been recognised almost 70 years after he went to the Arctic to play his role in a dangerous campaign from which many never returned.

Yesterday, Arthur Andrews, known as Andy, of Glanfield Walk, Bury St Edmunds, had a very special appointment at Number 10 Downing Street.

The 88-year-old, who is married to Mary, was awarded his long-overdue Arctic Star Medal from Prime Minister David Cameron and

Russian President Vladimir Putin, along with other Second World War veterans who took part in the Arctic Convoy missions.

It was one of the most dangerous campaigns in the war, taking supplies to the north of Russia; eighty-five merchant ships and 16 Royal Navy warships were lost and about 3,000 merchant and navy sailors died during the missions.

The convoys of merchant and military ships provided an essential lifeline to the Russians in their fight against Germany.

It is only in recent years the few veterans remaining have been properly recognised for their contribution with medals being awarded.

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Mr Andrews, who was an Air Mechanic 1st Class in the Fleet Air Arm, which is a branch of the Royal Navy, spent a few months in the Arctic in 1944.

He said: “They needed supplies to help them which we tried to do and we had to do the job. We didn’t think nothing of it and that was it.

“After we had been to the Arctic we left there and packed up because D-Day had arrived and we went out to the Pacific then and fought the Japanese.”

He added: “I think the worst time really that I had was out in the Pacific. You know what the Japanese were like with the kamikazes whizzing around all the time. That was very hairy.”

But Mr Andrews, who worked for Vinten, based in Bury, for about 20 years, recalled an incident in the Arctic that was too close for comfort, highlighting the constant threat, whether from aircraft or submarines.

“We were on the flight deck servicing the aircraft for something, near the stern, and somebody said ‘bloody hell, look at that!’

“And we all looked and there was a torpedo. It just missed the service ship and it went across to where we were, about a mile away, and hit another aircraft carrier and half sank it.”

He added: “I was lucky I did come home, but very many didn’t.”

While for some the weather was the worst part of the campaign, Mr Andrews, who came out of the service in 1946, said “we didn’t have the really cold weather some of them had”.

He said the level of danger depended on what you were doing, adding the merchant ships had no defence as such.

On finally being awarded the Arctic Star Medal, he said: “It’s very nice, isn’t it? You feel slightly proud of yourself. It’s 68 years ago it happened.”

Archie Mayes, 92, from Felixstowe, died in March before receiving his Arctic Star accolade and Ronald Johns, 92, from Ipswich, passed away just days before the Government announced a new medal was being cast to honour survivors.

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