28th Oct, 2016

Russians honour Arctic convoy vets

Evesham Editorial 11th Dec, 2014 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

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

John James from Evesham and Kenneth Vessey from Pershore 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 presented the medals during the ceremony attended by a number of civic dignitaries.

Embassy staff have travelled across the UK handing out the award 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 battle 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 political affairs at the Russian Embassy, said 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.