92-year-old from Tadcaster honoured by Vladimir Putin
Mike Laycock, Chief reporter / Saturday 22 August 2015 / News
AN ARCTIC convoy veteran from Tadcaster has been presented with a special medal – courtesy of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
More than 70 years after Jim Robson took part in Allied efforts to deliver supplies to Russia as it fought the Germans in the east during the Second World War, the Russian Embassy has sent him the Ushakov medal.
An accompanying letter to the 92-year-old states: “On the instructions of President Vladimir Putin, I have the honour of presenting to you Commemorative medal marking the 70th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War.”
It said thousands of Allied seamen lost their lives as British ships sailed in the ‘unwelcoming, stormy waters of the Arctic Ocean under a constant threat of being attacked by German U-boats and aircraft’.
It went on to say: “Your heroism will always be remembered in Russia and Britain. Your deeds will continue to serve as the supreme expression of bravery and a high point in human spirit.
“I am confident that it was not by accident that our nations found themselves on the right side of history, which the followers of the ideology wanted to stop, while depriving nations of their inalienable right to decide their destiny.”
The Press reported in 2012 how a York convoy veteran, Bill Sunderland, was disgusted after the British Government blocked Russian plans to present him with the Ushakov medal, saying it breached the rules on the acceptance of foreign awards.
Mr Sunderland went on to be presented with a new British medal, the Arctic Convoy Star, in 2013 just months before he died.
Mr Robson said he had received a letter from the Russian Embassy in 2013, saying that just before the visit of Putin to Britain, it had been agreed that the British Government would give permission for the Ushakov medal to be presented, and a list of prospective recipients was being drawn up, which would be forwarded to Moscow for a special decree to be signed by Putin to confer the honour.
Mr Robson said he filled in a form and sent it back, and then forgot all about it.
“It was so long ago,” he said. “It turned up in the post last week without any warning.”
He said he had joined the Royal Navy in 1942 and had always hoped he would not be sent on the convoys. He said he went on one trip to Russia, which by good fortune happened to be in July, and so he avoided the savagely cold weather which left ships covered in ice during winter convoys.
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