10:00am Thursday 15th August 2013
A HEROIC veteran who sailed in the arctic convoys during World War II has been honoured with the new Arctic Star medal.
Ken Vessey, of Pershore, was presented with the award given to those who risked their lives in convoys travelling north of the Arctic Circle between 1939 and 1945 at a ceremony last week.
The 91-year-old said he was “over the moon” to have received the medal, which was first awarded retrospectively last year – more than 70 years after the convoys took place.
Speaking at the presentation last Thursday at Age UK, Church Street, Evesham, Mr Vessey said: “I am over the moon about this. It is an award which has long been overdue.”
Jeff King, vice-president of the Worcestershire Royal British Legion and member of the Royal Naval Association, Pershore Branch, presented the award.
In his speech he said: “I was first approached by Alison Leggett, manager of Evesham Age UK, for the address to write to so that she could apply for this medal on behalf of Ken.
“Ken served as a stoker petty officer in the engine room, which is a frightening place to be on a ship during action especially on a ship as small as HMS Zambesi.
“He is just one of our heroes who helped to defend and escort the convoys of the Arctic Ocean through to the UK and North Russia.
“Conditions in the Arctic circle are extremely cold and hazardous, not least of all when they were under attack from German U-Boats.
“Many of you will probably recall that hundreds of children who were evacuated from Britain during the war, were sent to Canada and sadly some of those ships were sunk with great losses of these children. Had it not been for the heroism of the men of the Royal Navy such as Ken Vessey, those casualties might well have been much greater.”
Anyone who served in the convoys can apply for the medal, which can also be awarded posthumously.
Contact Mr King on 01386 443923 for more details.
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