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Family pride as Doncaster war hero John is honoured at last

Paula Buckley (r) with her mum Joan, of Sykehouse hold up a picture of Paula's dad John and the arctic star which he has been awarded with. Picture: Andrew Roe

Paula Buckley (r) with her mum Joan, of Sykehouse hold up a picture of Paula's dad John and the arctic star which he has been awarded with. Picture: Andrew Roe

A former marine who risked his life aboard Arctic convoys in World War Two has been honoured 29 years after he died.

Relatives of Fishlake man John Buckley believe he made at least 11 trips as a crewman aboard convoy ships which transported supplies through freezing seas to the Soviet Union after the Nazi invasion.

The ex-Royal Marine, who died of cancer aged 63 in 1985, has finally been awarded an Arctic Star medal from the Ministry of Defence, which was created after a long battle for the veterans to be formally recognised.

Mr Buckley’s daughter Paula, 63, of Blenheim Close, Hatfield, said: “I am so pleased my dad has been recognised for what he did. He would have been proud.

“We have checked his military records and it seems to show he made about 11 trips on the convoys, most of them on HMS Liverpool.

“He never spoke about what he saw during the war. He would even turn war films off the TV.”

The grandmother-of-two said: “I think the whole experience held bad memories for him. It is incredible what they went through. The cold they had to put up with was bad enough, not to mention the threat of being sunk.”

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.

The treacherous convoy trips were described by Winston Churchill as the ‘worst journey in the world’.

Between 1941 and 1945, 78 convoys braved attacks by German U-boats and the Luftwaffe and 3,000 seamen died.

Campaigners had blamed the long delay for recognition on poor political relations between the UK and Russia during the Cold War.

Mr Buckley is the latest Doncaster hero to be awarded the medal since it was introduced last year.

Among the first to receive it was World War Two veteran Frank Garbutt. The 90-year-old, of Coronation Court, Mexborough, was presented with the medal by Labour Leader and Doncaster North MP Ed Miliband at a ceremony at Mexborough Resource Centre.

He is thought to be one of only around 200 survivors who were still alive to pick up their medals.

He completed two Arctic convoys on the escort carrier HMS Activity between January and April 1944, with 30 to 40 ships in each.

Geoffrey Swapp, 89, of Westbourne Gardens, Balby, was presented with the medal for service as a gunner aboard the HMS Kent during the Arctic convoy missions between 1942 and 1944.

Godfrey Dent, of Sprotbrough, who died aged 86 in 2011, was awarded the medal posthumously last month. It was presented to his widow.

 

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