SLIDESHOW: Medal honour finally for hero of the Arctic

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Royal Navy veteran Fred Patfield has had his brave service officially recognised – 70 years on from taking part in the Arctic Convoys during the Second World War.

Fred, 95, served in the Navy from 1940 to 1946 and was a Leading Torpedoman on the destroyer, The Beagle.

Fred Patfield at home in Lytham showing off his Arctic Star medal.

Fred Patfield at home in Lytham showing off his Arctic Star medal.

He received the Arctic Star at his home in Lytham after Prime Minister David Cameron gave the go-ahead for the medals to be produced following a long-running campaign by survivors.

“It’s better late then never,” said Fred, whose family applied for the award on his behalf, and who is modest about his brave service in a campaign described by wartime PM Winston Churchill as ‘the worst journey in the world’.

“It is good to receive the medal but it was a long time ago,” added Fred.

“At the time, it was a case of just getting out there and doing what needed to be done and not thinking about it.

“I don’t have anywhere in particular in mind to display it.

“I think it will go in a chest with other mementoes.”

Up to 120,000 veterans – or their next of kin – are believed to be eligible for the Star, the design of which mirrors similar Second World War campaign medals, such as the Atlantic Star.

The medal recognises service between 1941 and 1945 delivering vital aid to the Soviet Union, running the gauntlet of enemy submarine, air and surface ship attacks in extreme weather conditions.

The campaign cost the lives of around 3,000 sailors and merchant seamen but it is thought that a certain level of animosity between Churchill and then Soviet leader Josef Stalin was the reason no Arctic stars were awarded following the war – a wait that has gone of until now.

Fred, who ran his own electrical shop in Blackpool up to retirement, has two daughters, Geraldine, who lives next door to him on South Park and Sue, based in Monmouth, South Wales.

He also has two grandsons, David and Stephen, and two great grandchildren, Stewart and Thomas, who all live in South Wales.

Geraldine said: “We are delighted for him. We read that Mr Cameron had given the go-ahead for the medals to be produced and followed the application process and it was wonderful to see the medal arrive at his home.

“Dad is very modest about his war service but we are all very proud of him and it is marvellous to see those involved in the campaign recognised after all these years.”

*Second World War images courtesy of the Imperial War Museum.

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