Suffolk war veteran awarded medal by Russian government to celebrate VE Day
- Credit: JULIA GOSLING
A Suffolk war veteran has been awarded with a Russian military service medal following his role in the Arctic Convoys of the Second World War.
Peter Gosling, 94, was delivered the medal by post – which came complete with a signed letter from president Vladimir Putin – to commemorate VE Day and the role the Allies played in aiding the Soviet Union during its early days of war.
The convoys were a series of 78 deliveries of trade supplies, military equipment and aid to the Soviet Union after it joined the war in 1941, primarily featuring Merchant Navy ships guarded by the Royal Navy, US Navy and Royal Canadian Navy.
Mr Gosling, from Trimley, said: “I knew it was coming up, but it was originally going to be at the embassy in London – they apologised and said it was in the interest of staying safe because of the virus, they were very nice about it all.
“They give out lots of medals, the Russians – they care about their veterans. It doesn’t mean the same as a British medal of course, but I am still very, very honoured.”
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Mr Gosling was 17 when he joined the Royal Navy in 1943, serving on the HMS Bellona where he worked as a gunnery trainer and fought on D-Day.
“Aircraft were a constant threat and we had large guns put on the ship to protect us,” he said. “By the time I joined the Royal Navy, the war was well underway and we had the upper hand because of RADAR.
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“I could tell so many stories, like when we were attacked by torpedo bombers based in German-occupied Norway. But for us it was work and we worked hard.”
Mr Gosling was on board the ship when victory was announced in 1945.
“We were halfway across the sea when they announced it,” he said. “We couldn’t celebrate or anything – back in those days you only had a tot of rum as your daily allowance, we couldn’t drink.”
Mr Gosling celebrated victory when he stepped foot back on British soil – where he later served in a guard of honour for King George VI at St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh. He later went on to serve in the West Indies.
Despite the coronavirus crisis meaning people should stay inside, Mr Gosling said he has no intention of not celebrating VE Day and remembering his fellow convoy crew.
He added: “I’m going to put a flag up outside and put some bunting on the windows. I know we can’t really socialise like we normally would, but me and my wife will do everything we can.”