Roy’s medal comes from Russia with love

Roy Harrison with the medal and his wife Rachel
Roy Harrison with the medal and his wife Rachel

A pensioner has been awarded a top honour from Russia for his bravery on the Arctic convoys during the Second World War.

Roy Harrison travelled to London to accept a medal from the Russian Embassy, in recognition of the work that he did to help the people of Russia by guarding and moving supplies during the war.

Mr Harrison, 88, sailed on one of the escort cruisers which saw the safe passage of supply ships.

He said: “The actual convoys came over from America carrying guns and tanks and we picked them up half way and escorted them around the worst part.

“As Mr Churchill said it was the worst journey in the world.”

Mr Harrison, who saw neighbouring vessels torpedoed and sailors killed during his time at sea, has already received an Arctic Star 
medal from the British government.

But this latest medal, given by the Russian Ambassador, was presented on behalf of Russian people who faced starvation without the convoys during the war.

As well as food the fleets delivered cargo including tanks, fighter planes, fuel, ammunition and raw materials.

The early convoys primarily delivered armoured vehicles and Hawker Hurricanes to make up for shortages in the Soviet Union.

Mr Harrison said: “It really was a great honour and I was overawed by the magnificent place (the Russian Embassy).

“Most of the people who were there to receive medals were disabled, and unable to get up to the table though which was sad.

“The medals had to be brought to them, it has been 70 years.”

Mr Harrison was joined on the day out to London by his proud son John Harrison and daughter-in-law Dee.

But his his wife Rachel, 87, who Mr Harrison met while on shore leave in 1944, was too poorly to attend.

The pair celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary on Tuesday with a meal out with family, including their other son Brian and his wife Jeanette who have travelled from Australia for the occasion.

Mr Harrison said: “It really has been quite a week but unfortunately Rachel was not well enough to attend the embassy.

“But I am looking forward to us all going out for dinner, with our son who is coming to visit from Australia.

“There have also been a hell of a lot of messages on Facebook from people congratulating me about the medal which has been really nice.”