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Medal awarded for service in the war

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: February 10, 2014

  • 06/02/14 Arctic convoy medal Alan Wood has a medal. Not any old medal - an Arctic Convoy medal - and he's ancient, so be ready for rambling tales of wartime antics!.

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A WORLD War Two veteran has recently been awarded a medal to acknowledge the vital role he, and many like him, played.

Alan Wood, 87, from Parwich, received the Arctic Star after his daughter Pauline Danks applied for it on his behalf.

The medal is awarded for any length of service above the Arctic Circle by members of the British armed forces and the merchant navy.

It is a retrospective award, coming nearly seventy years after the end of World War Two, which was formally approved by the Queen, and began production in early 2013.

The often treacherous Arctic convoys undertaken by the merchant navy were described by Winston Churchill as the “worst journey in the world”.

Mr Wood said: “I was only 17 when I joined the merchant navy in 1944.

“I spent three months on a training course for Lifeboat and Seamanship on the T.S. Vindicatrix, in Sharpness, Gloucestershire.

“After this I joined the S.S. Demeatation in Grangemouth on the Forth, and we proceeded to London to take troops and supplies to the Normandy beaches.

“On the second trip to the beaches, the ship was damaged by an inland shore battery with a number of casualties.

“We returned to North Shields for repairs.

“The next ship I was on was the S.S. Fort Yukon, which was loaded with supplies bound for Murmansk, Russia.

“We went from Manchester up the Clyde, where we met with other vessels and formed a convoy.

“I can tell you it was bitterly cold in the Arctic Circle, but I wasn’t frightened by it, I didn’t really feel it.

“After discharging the cargo in Murmansk we loaded the ship with phosphate bound for London.

“Whilst we were sheltering in the north of Scotland overnight we heard that peace had been declared.

“My next trip as on the S.S. Llandaff, which went empty from Newport, Wales to Philadelphia to fetch supplies for American forces in the Pacific, but then the atomic bomb was dropped and the Japanese surrendered.

“So we boarded coal in Philadelphia for northern Norway instead.

“I’m delighted to have been given this medal, but it’s a shame it took so long because many of my colleagues and friends who were also involved have long since died.”

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