Sailor's joy at receiving war medal
A FORMER sailor has finally achieved recognition 60 years late from the Government for his part in one of the most treacherous wartime roles.The Government has decided to honour veterans of the Arctic convoys who braved appalling weather to go to Russia.
By Richard Smith
A FORMER sailor has finally achieved recognition 60 years late from the Government for his part in one of the most treacherous wartime roles.
The Government has decided to honour veterans of the Arctic convoys who braved appalling weather to go to Russia.
Churchill called it “the worst journey in the world” when convoys delivered military aid to Russia and until the journeys had taken place, no merchant ships had been recorded travelling so far north.
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Russia has already issued medals to commemorate the sailors' bravery but the Russian Convoy Club was disappointed that the British Government had refused to have a medal struck, with Whitehall arguing it would set a precedent for veterans of other campaigns.
But now the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has written to those who served north of the Arctic Circle and west of the Urals to congratulate them on their service and give them a star-shaped medal.
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Patrick Warren, 85, of Seckford Almshouses, Seckford Street, Woodbridge, has received his medal and although he only served on one convoy, taking about a month, he can still vividly recall the hardship.
He served among a crew of 150 on a destroyer, HMS Foxhound, where he was chief quartermaster and in charge of a gun.
Mr Warren said yesterday: “I did not know I was going to get it although I had been asked to give my particulars to the MoD.
''I had heard that they were going to strike a medal but I thought it would come from Russia and not the MoD.
“I am pleased to get it because it shows a little recognition for what we did, me and my fellow seamen.''
Ipswich-born Mr Warren was an apprentice plumber when he joined the Navy, training at Shotley. He recalled: “We were escorting troops going to Russia and it must have been in the early part of the Russian convoys because there was not a lot of action.
“The weather was so appalling that we could hardly see the convoys. The waves were 15ft high, the visibility was practically nil because of the squalls and the wind, and what have you.
“The weather was so bad that we were more or less latched to the guns.
“Later they lost a lot of boys and ships. They lost aircraft carriers, destroyers, cruisers on the convoys.”
When it was light 24 hours a day the attacks from aircraft and U-boats were continuous and 3,000 seamen were killed during the four years the expeditions took place.
The convoys took tanks, petrol, ammunition, food and clothing.
It is estimated four million tons of supplies to boost the Red Army on World War Two's Eastern Front were shipped.
Sailors spent much time chipping ice away otherwise their boats would have become so top heavy they would have capsized.