Veteran is given the Arctic Star posthumously

A war veteran from Hastings has been posthumously awarded the Arctic Star medal.

Lieutenant Gordon Victor Pickard, who lived in St Helen’s Avenue, died aged 93 last June.

His son-in-law, Roger Kemble, of Three Oaks, received the Arctic Star on the late veteran’s behalf last month after applying for it.

The medal is intended to recognise the service of personnel in the Arctic convoys of the Second World War.

It is a retrospective award, which was created nearly 70 years after the end of the war, being announced in late 2012. The Arctic Star was formally approved by the Queen, and began production in early 2013.

Lieutenant Pickard was in the aircraft that sank the German submarine U-666 in the Atlantic in 1944. He was a second lieutenant and a navigator in Swordfish ‘B for Baker’ aircraft for 842 Naval Air Squadron aboard HMS Fencer.

He spotted the U-boat breaking the surface of the sea west of Ireland. He and his crew rushed to man their aircraft.

Depth charges were dropped and the U-boat was eventually sunk.

Earlier in the war Lt Pickard and 842 squadron were part of the force which occupied the Azores to forestall a German invasion.

As part of the Arctic convoys Lt Pickard did the Kola Run between April 4, 1944 and May 6, 1944.

Mr Kemble said: “The convoy carried Russian navy personnel who were to take charge of some French warships that were anchored in Scotland. On escort duty the normal hazards from German U-boats was increased on this particular sea route by emeny bombers flying out from Norway, as well as extreme cold and sudden snow storms.”

The Arctic convoys were oceangoing convoys which sailed from the UK, Iceland, and North America to northern ports in the Soviet Union, primarily Arkhangelsk and Murmansk.

There were 78 convoys between August 1941 and May 1945, sailing via several seas of the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans.

About 1,400 merchant ships delivered essential supplies to the Soviet Union.

Lt Pickard was born in 1921 in Wimbledon. In 1940 he volunteered for the Fleet Air Arm. He was not called up until New Year’s Day in 1941, when he became a naval airman 2nd Class at HSM St Vincent in Gosport. After the war he and his family moved to Hastings in 1957. He was a member of Christ Church, Blacklands, being a lay reader and becoming a church warden. He moved to Lewes in 1979 but returned to 1066 Country in 1985, living at Little Knights, near Westfield.

He and his wife became involved with St George’s Church, Brede, where at one time he was a church warden and the church’s treasurer.

Lt Pickard, who died on June 15 last year, is survived by his three sons, two daughters, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.