A Bridlington war veteran has become one of the few survivors of a vital supply chain to receive a new British medal.
The six pointed bronze Arctic Star was first awarded earlier this year. It recognises those who served in the Arctic Convoy of ships which during World War II worked to keep supplies flowing through German blockades to Britain’s Soviet Union ally.
Ted Harland, now 86, who lives with his wife Barbara in Richardson Court, Bridlington, received his award at a ceremony at Bridlington British Legion Club following a special Battle of the Atlantic service held on Saturday at the town’s war memorial.
Ted, who was a lad of just 16 and turned 17 during his 18 months on the warship “Alnwick Castle”.
It was a dangerous task mainly undertaken north of the Arctic Circle in freezing temperatures with the constant threat of German battleship and U-Boat attack. During the war more than 3,000 allied seamen lost their lives in the operation. Ted is one of around only 59 surviving UK veterans and, sadly, the last remaining member of the crew of the “Alnwick Castle”.
“I was on squid bombs - a type of depth charge which we used to force U-boats to surface. The danger between the U-boats and the freezing conditions was about equall. If you were more than five minutes in the water then you had, had it,” said Ted who was delighted to receive his Arctic Star which was presented by Royal Navy Lieutenant Sam Velickovic.
“The convoys were supplying the Russian allies with arms supplies, guns ammunition and lots of other things. At that time if we were not able to help the Russians in that way then Britain would have almost certainly suffered,” said Ted.
He is hopeful that the current Russian government will be successful in its bid to award those who served on the convoy lifeline their own bravery medal.
* The Arctic convoys travelled from Britain to northern Russia to resupply the Soviet Union during World War II
* By May 1945, the Arctic route had claimed 104 merchant and 16 military vessels.
* More than 3,000 men died in the freezing waters of the arctic.
* Wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill reportedly described the shipping route as the “worst journey in the world”