A pair of Blackpool Royal Navy veterans who spent the Second World War freezing on Arctic convoys have been honoured for their bravery.
Peter Kyle, 91, and James Bell, 91, were awarded the Ushakov Medal by the Russian Embassym for their roles in transporting essential supplies to the Soviet Union in the face of deadly German U-boats.
Great-grandad-of-one Peter, who lives off Park Road, signed up for the war effort in 1941 at the age of just 16.
He said: “I joined the Royal Navy on my 17th birthday and they put me on the convoys.
“It was absolutely freezing. It must have been minus 20 degrees. If you fell in the water you were dead.
“If you took your gloves off and you touched anything up on the deck your skin would stick to it, and you’d have to lose the skin on your hand to get free.
“I saw ships torpedoed and sunk.
“There were a lot of angry Germans about at the time. There was a war on and it was every man for himself, every ship for itself.
“German aircrafts followed the convoys and started bombing. When you entered the Russian port they were just waiting for you in their U-boats. Whenever one went down it could have been us.”
After the war, Peter returned to his home town of Blackpool, where he met and married the love of his life, Jessie, who died in 2008.
He said: “I met her at a dance at the Winter Gardens.
“I asked this lady for a dance and she turned out to be Jessie.”
Retired accountant and great-grandad-of-two James served in the D-Day landings of 1944 before being sent to man the HMS Bluebell convoy to Russia.
He lost his entire crew when the ship was hit by a German torpedo and sunk while he was on a training course in the UK.
He said: “I didn’t find out until later what had happened.
“I was very distressed when I heard about it because they were my shipmates, and we were all very close friends.
“70 years on this medal is almost an afterthought, but I’m very proud to receive it.
“I would like to accept it on behalf of the brave people on those ships that went down.”