A Royal Navy veteran from Banbury who embarked on four Arctic missions during the Second World War has been awarded the Ushakov Medal by the Russian Government.
Arthur Merritt joined the war effort as a young boy when he was growing up in Smethwick, Birmingham and started his training on HMS Canopus in 1941.
During his five-year career in the Royal Navy, he travelled to all parts of the world as well as Murmansk where he helped protect Arctic convoys which were bringing supplies to those living in the Soviet Union at the height of the war.
Now 91, Mr Merritt was recognised by the Russian government and was presented with the silver medal at a ceremony in Oxford last Thursday. He went with son and daughter-in-law Colin and Val and son-in-law Malcolm Abbott.
Mr Merritt now lives at Glebefields Care Home in Drayton, and spoke about his experiences during the war. He said: “It was a job that you had to do. I was there with other friends as well and there was a lot of camaraderie. We just got on with it.
“I was incredibly proud to serve my country during the war. When a letter came through the post about this medal I wondered what it was all about!”
Mr Merritt was joined by other war veterans who also received a Ushakov medal from the Russian ambassador Dr Alexander Yakovenko. In a letter to each of the veterans he said: “The Arctic Convoys were brilliant and one of the toughest operations in the Allied effort to bring about the victory. We feel that it is very important to preserve your life story for the future generations.”
Mr Merritt has two children, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. His daughter Vivienne added: “I think it is lovely for him to be awarded this medal. He is very modest about his achievement but he learned a lot from this experience. A lot of people lost their lives.”