Langham: Officer receives campaign medal 70 years after Arctic mission

Former Merchant Navy radio officer Richard Fearnside, of Langham, received an Arctic Star 71 years a

Former Merchant Navy radio officer Richard Fearnside, of Langham, received an Arctic Star 71 years after his boat was torpedoed in the Arctic Ocean during WWII. - Credit: Archant

A former Merchant Navy officer has received a campaign medal more than 70 years after his ship was sunk in seas near the Arctic Circle.

Dick Fearnside, 92, from Langham, received his Arctic Star through the post last week following a recent national campaign to recognise people who served in the region during the Second World War.

A radio offer in the Merchant Navy, Mr Fearnside served from 1939 to 1947 and also saw action in the Atlantic, Africa and Italy. But by his own admission, he was lucky to make it out of the Arctic when his ship S.S. Hartlebury was torpedoed by a German U-Boat in 1942 as it carried supplies to Russia.

He said: “There were 56 crew on the ship and we lost 36. I spent three days drifting on a raft with twelve other men until we were spotted by Russians from the Archangel base. I’d been on guard duty and had my uniform on when the torpedo struck but others had come from below and were wearing only singlets. They didn’t last long and we lost six men on that raft.”


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