Tony went on 'worst voyage in the world'
A ROYAL Navy veteran who endured one of the most treacherous missions of the Second World War has finally received his Arctic Star medal.
Tony Ham from Blisland took part in naval convoys to Russia, described by Prime Minister Winston Churchill at the time as "the worst journey in the world".
Mr Ham recalled the danger of the conveys, and not only from enemy attacks.
He volunteered for the Navy in 1942 and was selected for nine months' training as an electrical mechanic, was promoted to the rank of leading hand and assigned to HMS Campania, an escort carrier. Mr Ham recalled: "It was a journey into sub-zero temperatures, mountainous seas, biting gale force winds and was almost dark during daylight hours.
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"One consolation, if the weather was really bad, was that it cut down on the air attacks from German bombers stationed in Norway.
"U-boats were always a threat. I recall being at action stations, standing by the master gyro compass, situated in the bowels of the ship, when I heard a gurgling sound followed closely by another.
"I later learnt one of our escorts signalled a torpedo had gone ahead and another passed our stern, a very near miss.''
Convoys of merchant ships with their naval escorts sailed from Scotland to Murmansk via Kola inlet, the only port available in north Russia.
Tony said: "On approach all the escorting warships would close in on the convoy at full speed, dropping depth charges until we were safe in anchorage; the Russians never appeared to help. Between August 1941 and May 1945, 85 merchant vessels, two Royal Navy cruisers, six destroyers, and eight escort ships were sunk, with 3,000 sailors losing their lives.''
Mr Ham was demobbed in 1946 with the rank of Petty Officer, and has now received his long-awaited Artic Star medal.