Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Arctic Convoy naval hero leaves Bute for final journey

I was unaware of the presence of one of the recipients of the Arctic Star medal, who lived in Rothesay on the Isle of Bute until 2011, and passed his 100th birthday there.

Commander Ian Hamilton joined the Clyde division of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) in August 1932, then served in the Royal Navy from 1936 until 1957.

During World War II, he saw service in the Atlantic, the South Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the battles of Taranto and Matapan, the D-Day landings, and took part in the Arctic Convoys which carried supplies to Russian ports between 1941 and 1945, described by Churchill as “‘the worst journey in the world.’

His Arctic Star medal was presented at Erskine in April 2013 following approval by the Queen of an award to recognise the service of Royal Navy and Merchant Navy personnel. Commander Hamilton’s campaign medals already included the Naval General Service Medal, the 1939-45 Star, the Italy Star, the Africa Star, the Defence Medal, the War Medal, the Defence of Malta Medal and the Soviet Union’s Arctic Convoy Medal.

The body of Commander Ian Hamilton, who passed way in the Erskine home for former service personnel at Bishopton in Renfrewshire on February 9 at the age of 103, was piped on board MV Argyle, en route to his funeral at Greenock Crematorium.

Rothesay naval hero dies aged 103 – The Buteman

VIDEO: Lone piper gives Rothesay naval hero a fitting send-off – The Buteman

Seems this is another video source I can’t embed.

Fortunately, Zak was on hand to record the event (and I’m grateful for permission to use the occasional image):

21/02/2014 Posted by | Maritime, military, Naval, World War II | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Arctic Convoy veterans finally receive Arctic Star medal

Arctic Star medal

Arctic Star medal – Crown Copyright via Royal Navy

It’s a little unfortunate that almost every story relating to the presentation of the Arctic Star medal to veterans of the Arctic Convoys is accompanied by some reference or other to their 70-year fight to have their efforts recognised in this way. However, it is also probably fair to include that reference, since it also pays tribute to their tenacity over that period, and the efforts of those who supported them.

We haven’t been able to do much, but we have been able to mention the convoys and their preparation at Loch Ewe, prior to departure on what was described as “The worst journey in the World”, and where efforts are still ongoing to create a permanent museum to the convoys and the men who made them possible. Loch Ewe is also the place where a dwindling number of veterans assemble to mark the convoys each year, with as few as 40 being expected to make the trip there in 2013.

An exhibition is currently on show in Edinburgh Castle’s War Museum, Arctic Convoys: 1941-45, running from May 24, 2013 until March of 2014: Exhibition to give front-row seat on ‘worst journey in the world’ taken by Arctic convoys

There is even a distinctly Scottish connection to this award, as it seems that the veteran behind the medal campaign is a Scot originating from Montrose:

The leading figure behind the campaign to award the Arctic Star medal has had his award presented at a special ceremony.

Commander Eddie Grenfell, now 93, was too ill to travel to main presentation in London so his award was instead presented in Hampshire.

Mr Grenfell was born in Montrose, Scotland, but left at the age of 16 when he joined the Royal Navy and made Portsmouth his home.

He has lobbied tirelessly for 16 years for the medal to be created and was the first veteran to receive the star.

After the decision was made last December to award the star, the government was urged to act quickly because of the advancing age and ill-health of Mr Grenfell as well as other veterans.

Mr Grenfell was only released from hospital three weeks ago where he had been since last October.

He has suffered a heart attack and two cardiac arrests but managed to build up enough strength to attend Tuesday’s ceremony.

The chief of the defence staff general Sir David Richards attended the special event at the Mayor’s Parlour at Portsmouth Guildhall, Hampshire, to award Mr Grenfell.

The head of the UK armed forces had personally requested to attend the event to recognise Mr Grenfell’s lobbying efforts as well as his service on four of the Arctic convoys to Russia.

Mr Grenfell’s campaign gained massive popular support with a petition of 42,000 signatures being handed to Downing Street in 2004 as well as gaining support from local MPs.

Via Scots veteran Eddie Grenfell first to receive Arctic Star medal | Dundee & Tayside | News | STV

Also Convoy veterans given first Arctic Star medals

And Video: Bomber Command veteran welcomes ‘late honour’

19/03/2013 Posted by | military, Naval, World War II | , , , | Leave a comment


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