June 1 2020
A Second World War veteran living in a Kent care home has been presented with a special commemorative medal for his part in the Arctic convoys which helped supp
June 1 2020
A Second World War veteran living in a Kent care home has been presented with a special commemorative medal for his part in the Arctic convoys which helped support Russia in the conflict with Germany.
Clarence Brenchley, known as Clarry, served aboard the light cruiser HMS Diadem, which formed part of a protective escort to merchant ship running from the UK to Russian ports such as Arkhangelsk (Ark Angel) and Murmansk via the Arctic Ocean. The convoys provided Russia with essential supplies for the war effort between 1941 and 1945.
To mark the efforts of Clarry and his colleagues, Russia has awarded him the medal, entitled “The 75th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941-45.”
In a “virtual” ceremony via videolink, it was presented to him by at the care home where he lives, Harrier Lodge, in Whitstable, which was decorated with bunting in the colours of the Russian and UK flags made by other residents at the home.
The medal was presented via Zoom by one of Kent’s Deputy Lieutenants, Brigadier John Meardon, representing the Lord-Lieutenant, and it was then pinned on Clarry’s lapel by the home manager Diane Collins, watched by members of the care home team. Clarry’s son Michael and daughter Mary were also present but, in order to keep to social distancing, they stood outside the front of the home where they could see the ceremony but without risking any chance of passing on any infection.
The home’s Customer Relations manager Theresa Mead told Clarry: “I would like say how proud we all are of your service in the Royal Navy during WW2 and of your receiving this prestigious medal from the Russian Embassy today.
“Eight-five merchant vessels and 16 Royal Navy warships were lost to German attacks from submarines, surface vessels and aircraft during this time.
“Clarry was part of an anti-aircraft gun crew fending off attacks on the convoys, his role to feed the guns with ammunition. The gun crews were not only exposed to German air attacks but also to the heavy seas and sub-zero temperatures of the North Sea and Arctic Ocean.”
After receiving the medal, an emotional Clarry thanked the staff at Harrier Lodge for organising the presentation and said: “I am very pleased, but it is all a bit embarrassing. This is a great honour for me and it is a day I will never forget.”
When asked if he wanted a celebration drink, he said he would prefer a cup of tea.
The citation from Russia’s UK Ambassador Andrei Kelin reads: “Dear Veteran of the Arctic Convoy, it is a great honour for me to thank you and your comrades-in-arms on behalf of the Russian Government for what you have done to help defeat Nazi Germany 75 years ago.
“Russian people do remember the dramatic and heroic story of the Arctic convoys – a period of unique collaboration between Russia and Britain.
“From August 1941 to May 1945, the convoys delivered more than 4 million tons to Russia including at least 7,000 airplanes, 5,000 tanks, trucks, tyres, fuel, food, medicines, clothes, metals and other raw material.
“Thousands of Allied seamen lost their lives as the British ships sailed in the stormy waters of the Arctic Ocean under a constant threat from German U-boats and aircraft. Your heroism and courage will always be remembered. We strongly believe that this inseparable bond between our two nations should be preserved.
“This year the world commemorates the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II. The Russian government finds it extremely important to recognise those who contributed to the victory, both in Russian and overseas.
“On this occasion, Russian authorities have issued a special commemorative medal that is being awarded to the Russian veterans as well as members of the Allied Forces who were previously decorated with Russian awards.
“On the instruction of the President of the Russian Federation, I have the honour to present to you the commemorative medal “75 Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945” and wish you and your family good health and all the best.”
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