From Russia with love...

Arctic Star winner, Jim Ball, 88, has been asked to nominate himself by the Russian Government for the Ushakov Medal, for his work during the Second World War's Arctic Convoys.
Arctic Star winner, Jim Ball, 88, has been asked to nominate himself by the Russian Government for the Ushakov Medal, for his work during the Second World War's Arctic Convoys.
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A Fylde coast Navy veteran is set to receive a prestigious medal for his service during the Second World War – from the most unusual of sources.

For Jim Ball, 88, is to be given the Ushakov Medal for his part in helping deliver vital supplies to Russia as part of the Arctic convoy missions.

He has applied to the 
Russian Government to receive the honour at its request, with sign-off required to 
receive the award coming from the office of the country’s president, Vladimir Putin.

The medal, normally reserved exclusively for Russian sailors, was opened up to British seaman in June and can be given to any person still alive who has received the Arctic Star – the UK medal given for service in the Arctic Circle.

Jim, of Ribby Road, Kirkham, said he was “very proud” to be asked to apply for the prestigious decoration, normally awarded for courage and bravery displayed both in wartime and in peacetime, during the defence of Russia in naval theatres.

He added: “I had a letter through from the Russian Embassy in London a few weeks ago, which asked me to apply to their government.

“I worked as an aircraft handler off the Norwegian coast and was part of the last convoy to Murmansk, Northern Russia.

“I was lucky when I served as it was approaching the summer, but we still had rough seas and snow showers.

“Some men who served in winter spoke of having to chip ice off guns and cannons so they could still work.”

The Arctic convoy missions saw more than 80 merchant vessels sunk by German submarines, as well as 16 Royal Navy warships, including two cruisers and six destroyers.

The Russian Embassy is to gather all the responses from soldiers, before the medals are presented later this year.

Jim, who has three children – Christine, Janet and Christopher – as well as two grandchildren and two great grandchildren, said: “It’s an honour to be recognised.”