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War hero receives his Arctic Star from George
WINSTON Churchill once described it as the ‘worst journey in the world’ and after nearly 70 years of campaigning the survivors of the Arctic convoys of The Second World War are finally receiving the recognition they deserve.
One such hero, 103-year-old Glynn Tegfan Jones, had his day of victory when George Osborne MP awarded him his long overdue medal, the Arctic Star, outside the Red Cross building in Knutsford.
Clearly moved by the occasion, Mr Osborne wrote a touching message on the back of the presentation box which reads, ‘Your country is proud of you’.
Glynn, who served in the Navy for the duration of the war, said: “When George said he wanted to meet me I couldn’t quite believe it. He didn’t have to do that.
“It was fantastic. He was bowing down beside me; the Chancellor bowing down to me.”
The High Legh resident was proudly watched by his son, daughter-in-law, grandchildren and great grandchildren as the Chancellor presented the six-pointed bronze star to the centenarian.
Mr Osborne said: “It was a very great honour to meet Mr Glynn Tegfan Jones to present him with the Arctic Star Medal for his selfless service to this country in The Second World War.
“At 103, he had many stories to tell and I was pleased to meet several generations of his family too. He is a true British hero.”
It was a bitter-sweet occasion for Glynn as he and his comrades have endured an unrelenting battle with the Government, fighting for their war efforts to be acknowledged.
The Arctic heroes were overlooked when medals were awarded in 1946 due to tensions with the Soviet Union.
Glynn said: “What I want to know is, why was Blair so reluctant to recognise what we did, why was he so reluctant to meet survivors of these convoys?
“That sort of thing hurts.
“It has taken more than 60 years of fighting for a medal that we deserved and to recognise what we did on those terrible convoys.”
The Arctic Star is a retrospective medal and began production in 2013 at the request of the Prime Minister David Cameron.
It is awarded for any length of service above the Arctic Circle by members of the British Armed Forces and the Merchant Navy.
During The Second World War, the convoys faced severe weather, navigated through icefields, their magnetic compasses became unreliable, and faced the hazard of floating mines.
More than 3,000 sailors died as ships ran a gauntlet of German planes and U-boats to keep Russia supplied and fighting at the Eastern Front.
Glynn, who lives with son Howard, 71, and daughter-in-law Mary, described the harrowing incidents he experienced first-hand on his ship, the HMS Kenya.
He said: “The conditions were very bad.
“Before we left for Russia, we were told not to touch metal.
“I took my gloves off once and touched the binoculars; that’s when the frostbite got me.
“It went all the way up my arm and they were talking of amputation; nobody knows what we have been through.
“Another time the captain of the ship called us all together and told us we were going on a dangerous mission and he wanted the ship to be at its peak readiness.
“He said that he didn’t care about losing men, there were plenty of us, but he couldn’t afford to lose the ships.
“Those are the things that get me down.”
Glynn first dreamed of joining the Navy as a small boy growing up by the sea in Holyhead in Wales.
He married his childhood sweetheart, Frances Martin, in 1934, and when the war broke out gave up his job as a car salesman to volunteer in the Navy.
He had a job lined up as an immigration officer before enlisting.
After the war, Glynn found it hard to adjust to life as he had his wife and two young sons, Howard and Enfys, to support. Jobs were scarce, and after spending a great deal of time looking for employment he landed a role in the civil service, where he stayed for years after.
His wife died in 1989 followed by his son Enfys at the age of 73. He moved to High Legh 18 months ago.
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