Veterans given Arctic Star medals

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Two Harrogate veterans of the Second World War have received Arctic Star medals almost 70 years after they enlisted as teenagers.

Dennis Petty was just 17 years old when he joined the Navy and served on the HMS Whimbrel during the Arctic Convoys.

tis  Dennis Petty with his Arctic Star medal.  (130902M1)

tis Dennis Petty with his Arctic Star medal. (130902M1)

He said: “Enlisting was just one of those things in war time, you just had to grin and bear it.

“We didn’t have time to be scared in the war; we had to get on with it and keep focused. We had a job to do.”

The HMS Whimbrel had just completed a three month Atlantic crossing when Mr Petty was told they would be travelling in convoy to Kola Bay in Russia.

“We got no shore leave, we were told we were going north to Russia and handed cold weather clothing,” he said.

“We escorted the American ships there and brought the American sailors back.”

He added: “They didn’t get rum in the American Navy, whereas we got it in our rations - so the Americans quite enjoyed the trip with us, I think!”

After returning from Russia, Mr Petty again missed out on shore leave, arriving at Milford Haven in South Wales on June 5, 1944.

“When we got back to the dock, I knew something was going to happen as there were two big battle cruisers there,” he said.

“When I got up the next morning the battle cruisers had gone, it was D-Day. The day after, we took the American soldiers to Omaha beach.”

Mr Petty had planned a naval career, but returned to work at the family mill in Yeadon after the war.

John Annett, who enlisted in 1941 aged 19, did continue a naval career after the end of war, rising through the ranks to become Lieutenant Commander before leaving the service in 1963.

The 91-year-old said: “It was a very good life in the Navy, I went to Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong after the war. Travel was one of the reasons I stayed, and it was very interesting.”

Mr Annett was presented with his Arctic Star medal by the Mayor of Harrogate, Coun Mike Newby on Remembrance Sunday for his service on HMS Trinidad and HMS Cumberland during the Russian convoys.

He said: “The medal brings back all the memories from my time at sea; Remembrance Day was a good time to get it.”

It was announced last year that the Arctic Star medal would finally be minted, even though only around 200 veterans of the convoys are still alive.

Winston Churchill once described the route as the ‘the worst journey in the world.’

Mr Annett added: “I did three convoys. They were the most hostile, epecially from a weather point of view.”