Veteran receives medal for two brave convoys in Arctic

A WAR hero who completed two Arctic convoys during World War Two was yesterday presented with a prestigious military medal by Labour leader Ed Miliband.

Artic Star war hero Frank Garbutt from Mexborough receives his medal from Ed Miliband MP

Frank Garbutt, who has already received his Arctic Star through the post, was officially presented with it yesterday in recognition of his wartime bravery.

The 89-year-old, who describes his experiences in the Arctic Circle as “hell”, was a sailor on the escort carrier HMS Activity and completed two Arctic convoys between January and April 1944.

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Dozens of convoys of merchant ships, escorted by Royal Navy warships, were sent to transport vital supplies such as food, weapons, aircraft, ammunition and medicines to the Soviet Union, running the gauntlet of enemy submarine, air and surface ship attacks.

The campaign cost the lives of around 3,000 sailors and merchant seamen, and more than 100 civilian and military ships were lost.

Mr Garbutt, from Mexborough, said: “All we have been allowed to wear on parades is a small lapel badge. That is why I am so grateful we are to receive the Arctic Star.

“It was one of the most hazardous campaigns of the war and it’s about time.”

He added: “I’d given up because I didn’t think it would ever happen but I am really disappointed that out of all those thousands on the convoys there’s only a few of us left now to receive it.”

After the Communist regime was toppled the Russian Federation presented Mr Garbutt and other veterans with a succession of medals for their contribution to the Soviet war effort.

The Arctic Star, however, only went into production by the Royal Mint earlier this year.

Mr Miliband said: “Mr Garbutt risked his life to help supply one of Britain’s wartime allies.

“Ultimately his actions – and those of his many comrades – helped defeat the Nazi regime and liberate millions of people across Europe. He is a war hero.

“The Arctic Star recognises the bravery displayed by all the sailors who endured hellish experiences while fighting for freedom in th Second World War.

“Mr Garbutt certainly deserves that recognition, and I’m proud to be able to present him with his medal.”