Sir Winston Churchill once said seamen taking part in the Arctic Convoy run were going on ‘the worst journey in the world’.
Thousands of Allied seamen lost their lives on the stormy waters of the Arctic Ocean, under constant threat of being attacked by German U-boats and aircraft.
Now a local man who returned from that ‘worst journey’ has been honoured by the Russian government.
George Morris, 91, of Sea Road, Fairlight, was presented with the Ushakov medal by Russian ambassador Dr Alexander Yakovenko, on behalf of President Vladamir Putin.
It was the Russian’s way of recognising the men who risked their lives to bring vital aid and supplies at a time when Stalingrad was besieged by German forces.
Recalling his experiences on the 1,700 ton Destroyer HMS Zambesi, George said: “I was 19 when I came aboard, little more than a school boy.”
George carried out vital work cracking German codes and ciphers, sometimes while under attack from enemy submarines and aircraft.
He said: “The work was complicated and difficult and it was very intense at times but I had wonderful shipmates and served under highly trained officers.”
As well as delivering supplies George was involved in a mission to rescue several hundred stranded Norwegians and take them back to Britain.
At other times he joined with fellow crew members to help chip ice from the boat.
He said: “I was very young at the time and it was something of an adventure.”
Dr Yakovenko told George and fellow veterans: “What you did 70 years ago was extraordinary, even among what is considered to be above the call of duty.
“Your heroism will always be remembered in Russia and Britain and your deeds will continue to serve as the supreme expression of bravery and a high point in human spirit.
“The allied effort required all the best in the national spirit of the British and the peoples of the Soviet Union, a strength of character that we are rightly proud of.”
About 1,400 merchant ships delivered essential supplies to the Soviet Union escorted by ships of the Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, and the U.S. Navy. It was particularly dangerous due to the proximity of German air, submarine and surface forces and the likelihood of severe weather, fog, and strong currents.
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