Video: Medals at last for Yorkshire heroes of Arctic Convoys

Two West Yorkshire veterans of the Second World War Royal Navy Arctic Convoys have finally been presented with their campaign medals.

Arctic Convoy veteran Robert Blackman, 94, at Vicarage House Care Home.

Veteran Robert Blackman was yesterday (August 13) handed his Arctic Star by family on his 94th birthday at Vicarage House Care Home in Dewsbury.

Mr Blackman was a leading seaman on HMS London between March 1942 and February 1943.

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The Royal Navy warship escorted convoys of merchant ships transporting vital supplies of food, weapons, aircraft, ammunition and medicines to the Soviet Union.

Arctic Convoy veteran Robert Blackman, 94, at Vicarage House Care Home.

It ran the gauntlet of enemy submarine, air and surface ship attacks.

And last week, former Royal Navy Petty Officer Wilf Spencer, 93, of Kippax, was presented with his Arctic Star.

The great-great grandfather served for four-and-a-half years on HMS Malaya, which survived a string of enemy bomb and torpedo attacks.

The pair are among Arctic Convoy veterans only now being recognised for their service in the Arctic Convoys campaign, which cost the lives of around 3,000 sailors and merchant seamen, and more than 100 civilian and military ships.

Mr Spencer, a retired shipping manager, said: “We were bombed en route by submarines and aircraft. We lost vessels through torpedoes.”

He said he is as “pleased as punch” to receive the Arctic Star, which will join his collection of five medals, which include the Atlantic Star and Africa Star.

He added: “We had to chip ice off the rigging and fitments on board, which were frozen. It was so cold and I saw ships sunk by torpedoes.”

Mr Spencer’s daughter Liz Denton, 54, of Kippax, successfully applied to the Ministry of Defence for her father’s Arctic Star.

She said: “He is very proud of his service in the Navy. He was invalided out with TB aged 23 and that is a source of regret to him as he wanted it to be a career for life. He is chuffed to bits and wants to wear his new medal on Remembrance Sunday in November.”

Mr Blackman’s sister Wendy Brooks applied for the medal on his behalf and wanted to present it to him on his birthday.

She said: “My brother served on HMS London, which was doing the Arctic Convoys. He talks very little about it. I think it was horrific.”

Mrs Brooks added: “We owe them so much.”