Arctic Star for veteran of wartime convoys to Russia
Ron Herrington, 86, from Kirkby Malzeard, received his medal from Anthony Chisenhale-Marsh, Deputy Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, at a ceremony at the Crown Hotel in Grewelthorpe, organised by the local branch of the Royal British Legion.
He joined the Royal Navy in 1943, aged 17, and was first stationed on the south coast of England in support of the D-Day invasions. A few days before the invasion he was sent to Scapa Flow in Orkney, to join HMS Berwick, which was acting as an escort to the convoys taking supplies across the North Sea to the allies in Russia.
His first role was in the cordite room in the lowest part of the ship. Later he was part of the crew of one of the ship’s 4-inch guns.
“We were on four hour shifts, and we often felt shattered,” he said.
“It was rough and we often had to chip ice off the guns. In bad weather the cooks couldn’t work, so we lived on soup, ships biscuits and chai – a mixture of cocoa, custard powder and condensed milk – which was excellent!”
Berwick patrolled between the convoy and the Norwegian coast and accompanied aircraft carriers when they attached the German battleship Tirpitz in a fjord. Berwick also sailed to Murmansk on one of its North Sea runs.
After the war, Mr Herrington, originally from Tunstall near Catterick, emigrated to Australia, but he later returned to Yorkshire. He said: “I’d like to pay tribute to the men of all three services who worked on the Arctic Convoys – many of them didn’t return, and many have died in the meantime. This medal has been a long time coming, but I’m very pleased and proud to have it.”
Major Roger Chapman, president of the Grewelthorpe Branch of the Royal British Legion, said: “We are grateful to Ron and all his comrades for their dedication to the dangerous mission in running supplies to Russia – what Churchill called: ‘the worst journey in the world.’ His Arctic Star is well-deserved, especially after so many years.”
Prime Minister David Cameron announced the creation of the Arctic medal after a long campaign.