From Russia with love: war medal for hero veteran Colin

Colin Walford pictured after receiving the Ushakov Medal from Naval Attache Captain Oleg Kornienko, right. EMN-150615-151413001
Colin Walford pictured after receiving the Ushakov Medal from Naval Attache Captain Oleg Kornienko, right. EMN-150615-151413001

A war veteran who has just celebrated his 90th birthday has been presented with a medal from the Russian government for his part in the treacherous Arctic Convoys of the Second World War.

Colin Walford from Middle Rasen was presented with the Russian Ushakov Medal by Naval Attache to the Russian Embassy, Captain Oleg Kornienko, during a ceremony at Hemswell Court on Monday.

“I’m very proud of my medals but it’s (the war) ancient history really. When I got the letter about this, I thought, as I’m still here I might as well take it. It’s a good birthday present,” he said.

The Arctic Convoys took crucial supplies and weapons to Russia, through a narrow passage between the Arctic ice packs and German bases in Norway to the ports of Murmansk and Archangel.

Mr Walford joined the Royal Navy in 1943 and the following year made two convoy runs - in February aboard HMS Strule and November on HMS Louis.

He said: “You never forget about it. It keeps coming back to you.”

Winston Churchill described the convoys as “the worst journey in the world” - and Mr Walford said conditions were hazardous and freezing.

“I had to have a load of clothes on, a fur coat and mittens on my hands for the cold.

“When you were on watch and had to take one (a mitten) off to write anything down, you never got warm again.

“It was so cold it split my top lip - and for years after it would split in the cold.

“But I think they (the Arctic Convoys) made a difference to the course of the war. And the north Atlantic convoys were just as useful,” he said.

Mr Walford was also part of the Atlantic Conyoy and said one of his worst experiences was hitting a heavy Atlantic storm.