War veteran finally collects medal after 70 years
- Credit: Archant
A 93-year-old war veteran has finally received a medal to honour his efforts with Russian convoy missions in the Second World War.
Richard Gould sent his grandaughter Nadine Gould, to pick up the Ushakov medal from the Russian Embassy on his behalf.
Miss Gould, 25, was accompanied by her cousin Natalie Dent when she went to represent her grandfather.
She said: “I think it’s great he has been recognised for his work and finally given a medal. It was a pleasure to represent him and to receive the medal for him and to see the other veterans.”
Mr Gould, from Downham Market, had been waiting for his award since last year after being informed that the British government decided to allow veterans to receive the Ushakov medal 70 years on.
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Up until then, Foreign and Commonwealth Office rules stated that British veterans could not receive a foreign medal if the act they honoured happened more than five years ago.
Mr Gould said: “I am pleased to have received it, I thought it was a disgrace denying us the award. I don’t know why the government changed their minds in the end and let us have it.”
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At the tender age of 14, Mr Gould left education to join an army school, before joining the navy in 1940 at 19 as a gunner.
“I quite fancied wearing the clothes,” said Mr Gould said about why he decided to join the navy. “I used to see all them walk around looking very smart and I thought, I will have a go at that.”
He worked on HMS Fiji which was sunk by the Germans in the Battle of Crete in May 1941, before boarding the HMS Howe in August 1942.
“Fiji was machine gunned in the water - it was a shock to the system,” he said.
Battleship HMS Howe supported Russian convoys which were known as ‘suicide missions’ by many of the men who sailed on them and some of them were only 16 years-old.
German u-boats and aircraft were on intent on stopping supplies going to Russia, and over 3,000 young men perished in the icy waters of the North Atlantic, their bodies never to be recovered.
“You had to keep moving, and keep the guns moving or they would freeze up,” said Mr Gould. I did this for around 18 months in 1942-43 and not many survived.”
In 1946, he volunteered to work down the mines so he was released from the navy after five years service. He later worked on the docks in the east-end of London for 30 years before retiring in Norfolk.