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Medal at last for Doncaster convoy hero

Civic Mayor of Doncaster, Councillor Eddie Dobbs, presents the Artric Star medal to Mrs Margaret Dent, of Sprotbrough, who accepted it on behalf of her late husband.

Civic Mayor of Doncaster, Councillor Eddie Dobbs, presents the Artric Star medal to Mrs Margaret Dent, of Sprotbrough, who accepted it on behalf of her late husband.

A Doncaster widow has been presented with the war medal her husband did not live to receive.

Godfrey Dent - known as Goff - died in June 2011 a couple of years before the Government decided to mint the Arctic Star for those who served on convoy ships maintaining the vital supplies lifeline to the Russians during the Second World War.

Mr Dent, who was 86 when he died, served for 13 years in the Merchant Navy from leaving school in Balby and always told his wife, Margaret, the worst period of his service was on an Arctic convoy in 1942 when he only 17.

“He used to tell me it was so cold even his moustache froze. He said the seas were tremendous and he was scared all the time,” said Mrs Dent, 78, who lives in Sprotbrough.

“When his ship, the SS Empire Leopard, got to Murmansk he had to take a three-day train journey to Archangel to get on another ship to come home. Fortunately that was his only Arctic convoy.”

It was especially fortunate that Goff did not stay on the Empire Leopard because the ship was sunk by a German U-boat in the North Atlantic in November 1942, just three months after he left her. Only three of the crew survived.

That wasn’t Goff’s first lucky escape as a seaman - in January 1942 he was one of the crew of the SS Runswick, a steamer carrying a cargo of coal, which was in collision with a ship off Peterhead in Scotland, and the Peterhead Lifeboat rescued her crew of 44 in atrocious conditions.

Goff left the navy in 1953 to marry Margaret and the couple had three daughters and a son. He worked at ICI Fibres and Skellow Hall before retirement.

Mrs Dent was invited to Doncaster Mansion House to receive the Arctic Star from Civic Mayor Eddie Dobbs, who said: “Goff unfortunately passed away before he could receive his medal but it gives me great pleasure to present it to his wife and to thank him for all he did in defending his country.”

She said afterwards: “The Arctic Convoy veterans have had to fight for this medal a long time and I felt very proud to receive it on his behalf.

“He was proud of what he did.”

 

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