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Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013 at 2:33 pm
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Tom Receives Russian Arctic Convoy Medal

Tom Davidson became the first man in Midlothian to receive the Russian Arctic Convoy Medal, which recognises the service of men like Tom who took part in this notoriously perilous sea campaign during the second world war.

He was presented with the medal in a special ceremony at Archview Care Home in Dalkeith, where the 91 year old now lives.  Lord Lieutenant Patrick Prenter presented Mr Davidson with the medal  saying. “I was privileged and honored to present the Arctic Medal to Tom as he served in some of the most grueling wartime conditions, where many lost their lives. He is a fine character and a worthy representative of his colleagues.”

The North Atlantic Fleet comprised Merchant ships with supplies and ammunition which were escorted by British Royal Naval ships and aircraft carriers. It brought four million tons of supplies from the UK to the North Russian ports of Murmansk and Archangel to aid Russian Allies, braving terrible weather conditions and attacks from German U-boats, ships and aircraft. These supplies were vital to the war effort as German forces had Russia completely blockaded.

The Convoys were called ‘the Suicide Missions’ by many of those men who sailed on them and Churchill described it as “the worst journey in the world”. Eighty-five merchant vessels and 16 Royal Navy escort ships carrying over 3000 people were lost as the German navy and air force attempted to cut the link with Russia through the icy waters of the North Atlantic.

Mr Davidson said, “I was happy to receive the medal today but sad that some of my shipmates never made it. It was very cold, wet and a highly dangerous mission, we had to wear heavy arctic gear and the conditions were terrible. But we had a job to do and we just got on with it.

“After 70 years I’m very grateful to receive this medal and I’ll be raising a glass to fond friends who never made it back.”

Commander Eddie Grenfell 92, who led a long campaign for recognition of the servicemen who ferried vital supplies to the Soviet Union, said just 200 elderly Arctic convoy veterans are still alive.

Those eligible for the new Arctic Star are all those who served for any length of time north of the Arctic Circle in World War II.  Eligible veterans and next of kin are now being encouraged by the MoD to apply for the new awards. Information and an application form can be found on the www.veterans-uk.info website, or people can phone 08457 800 900.

The Russian Convoy Medal 

The Russian Arctic Convoy Museum

 

 

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