Doncaster war veteran finally honoured after 70-year wait

Doncaster war veteran Robert Scraggs has waited more than 70 years to finally get his hands on a medal honouring his brave service during the Second World War.

Monday, 11th April 2016, 6:00 am
L to r: MP Rosie Winterton, Robert and Doris Scraggs.

The 93-year-old pensioner was presented with a Ushakov Medal from the Russian Federation in honour of his service during the Arctic Convoys, which were memorably described by Winston Churchill as ‘the most dangerous journey in the world’.

Between 1942 and 1944, dozens of convoys of merchant ships, escorted by Royal Navy warships, were sent into the Arctic Circle to transport vital supplies such as food, weapons and medicines to the Soviet Union after the Nazis invaded. More than 3000 men perished in the icy waters and historians say the importance of the convoys has been under-estimated, because they kept the Russians in the war when Britain was still in danger of losing it.

Frozen vessels in the Russian Arctic Convoys would often be covered with ice in the sub zero conditions.

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The grandfather-of-two, from Intake, made dozens of treacherous trips as a steward aboard the HMS Campania and HMS Vindex.

He was invited to join 27 other veterans to finally pick up his medal, awarded by a decree of President Vladimir Putin, at a special ceremony at Doncaster’s Mansion House in February.

While he was too ill to be interviewed, his wife Doris, aged 87, said: “I am very proud of him. It is horrible to think what they went through in those freezing conditions. It has taken such a long time to get the medal, but he is so pleased with it.”

The Foreign Office initially did not allow Russia to honour the veterans as it broke rules that do not allow British soldiers to receive a foreign medal if the act happened more than five years ago. But following a long-running campaign, the Government allowed an exception to the rule allowing these deserving veterans to be honoured.

Frozen vessels in the Russian Arctic Convoys would often be covered with ice in the sub zero conditions.

Doncaster Central MP Dame Rosie Winterton worked with the Russian Embassy to ensure Mr Scraggs received his medal.

She visited Mr Scraggs at home a few days ago and praised him for his “outstanding, distinguished and heroic service.”