October 1st, 2016

Bromsgrove and Rubery veterans handed highest naval honour

Updated: 10:58 am, May 07, 2015

BRAVE Bromsgrove and South Birmingham war veterans were among those honoured for their service on the Arctic Convoys in a prestigious ceremony held by the Russian embassy.

Peter Ward, 92, from Bromsgrove and Harold Biddulph from Rubery were among the 44 veterans invited to County Hall in Worcester on Monday (November 24) to receive the Ushakov Medal, Russia’s highest naval honour.

Members of the Russian embassy were on hand to present the medal during the ceremony attended by a number of civic dignitaries.

Embassy staff have travelled across the UK presenting the honour after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree in March to recognise the efforts of British veterans during the conflict.

The Arctic Convoys saw Royal Navy and merchant ships suffer appalling weather and frequent German air and sea attacks as they supplied Russian ports during the Second World War.

During the six year conflict, the convoys braved constant threat of attack by German U-boats and aircraft while the men also had to deal with severe cold, storms and ice.

But their efforts kept the former Soviet Union supplied with weapons and food totalling 4.5million tonnes.

Their efforts went unrewarded in the UK until the Government unveiled the Arctic Star medal in 2013 to honour the estimated 200 surviving veterans.

Sergey Nalobin, Head of Bilateral and Poltical Affairs at the Russian Embassy, told the ceremony the men were ‘all heroes who will never be forgotten in our country’

Speaking after the presentation, Counsellor Nalobin said: “It’s hugely important (for Russia to recognise the veterans), these people are remembered quite well in Russia.

“The importance of the Arctic Convoy to our victory was crucial at that moment.

“We understand that without the help from our allies it would have been difficult to defeat the Nazis.

“For four years on the convoys, thousands of people risked their lives, many of them volunteered for the job and I think it’s right we are remembering them and decorating them with the Ushakov medal.” he added.

Mr Ward told The Standard: “If they hadn’t received the eauipment, there’s a good chance the Germans would have over-ran the Russians and there would prossibly be no such thing as Russia today.”

The medal was presented in a velvet-covered case and came with a certificate confirming ownership.

They also received a picture of the Russian Embassy, a letter from the Russian Ambassador expressing gratitude for all the British did and a piece of paper summarising the speech given on the day.

“There was such a contrast between receiving this medal in its beautiful case at a wonderful ceremony and the Arctic Star from the Government which just came through the post.”

The veterans who were honoured by Russia during the ceremony. Picture by Marcus Mingins 4814023MMR6.