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9 May, 2010 19:22

‘We were all united’- Arctic convoy veteran

“We were all committed, we were all together in it,” says Sid Francis Tiffin, member of the British Arctic convoy that transported supplies and munitions to Russia in the war years.

“The weather was horrendous at the time. The 1942-1943 weather was the worst storms that ever been known in that area… The waves were coming over the top of us,” recalls the veteran his missions during the war.

“When I went away at 16 it was an adventure for me,” recalls Jock Dempster, a WWII British veteran who was part of the convoy taking supplies from Scotland to Eastern France and further to Russia.

“When we arrived in Russia, they made us very welcome. There was a mutual respect between us,” says the veteran about Russia.

“Back home we haven’t received a lot of recognition for it, which grieves a lot of veterans. We have received recognition from the Russian government. They gave us a medal to celebrate the 40th anniversary since the end of the war.”

Arctic convoy veteran John Seares says he is proud to have played his part.

“I’m very grateful to wear these medals from the Russian president. It’s quite right – we should be acknowledged and recognize the effort we put in guarding through these times and covering the convoys,” the veteran said.

Every 10 years, the Russian government has awarded medals to British veterans.

“They gave us the one this year, five years earlier. My sneaking suspicion is, they realize our average age is 88, and most of us will not be here in another five years’ time,” confides Mr. Dempster.

Professor Michael Jones, historian, thinks Arctic supplies “were very important in bringing raw materials and military equipment through to the Soviet Union in the hardest days of the fighting and they were a very important symbolic gesture, that Britain and America were standing firm behind the Soviet Union, facing the German onslaught.”