Felixstowe: Arctic Convoy veteran dies just weeks after medals are awarded

Archie Mayes talks about his time in the Russian Convoys during WWII. Archie is pictured with old ph

Archie Mayes talks about his time in the Russian Convoys during WWII. Archie is pictured with old photographs from that period.

HE served on one of the most treacherous missions of the Second World War, endured freezing temperatures and constant bombardment from air and sea.

Archie Mayes talks about his time in the Russian Convoys during WWII. COLLECT.

Archie Mayes talks about his time in the Russian Convoys during WWII. COLLECT.

And today, bosses at the Royal British Legion paid tribute to the bravery of Arctic Convoy veteran Archie Mayes, who died just weeks after medals were finally awarded to those who served on the missions.

The 92-year-old was due to be among the first group of veterans to receive the Arctic Star accolade last month but he was unable to attend a ceremony in London on March 19 because of ill health – he died on March 28.

But Archie, of Exeter Road in Felixstowe, has had his last wish granted after it emerged his medal will be received by his daughter, Denise.

The medal was despatched last month and a relative told the Star it arrived about a week after his death.

Speaking to the Star in January, Archie said: “I am not worried myself because it’s history.

“It is nice to be remembered. It is a long while since it all happened and thousands of them (veterans) are dead now. But I would like Denise to have it.”

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Archie, who was called up when he was 20, served as a sick berth attendant on two convoys and had previously described trips to the Soviet Union as ‘hell’.

About 3,000 people perished on the convoys, dubbed the worst journey in the world by Winston Churchill. It is thought just 200 are still alive today.

A spokeswoman for the Royal British Legion said: “Delivering vital supplies across treacherous seas and under immense danger at all times, the courage shown by the likes of Archie is immeasurable.

“Although it has taken over 70 years, the Legion is very pleased that Archie was awarded the Arctic Convoy Medal – he deserved nothing short of the utmost respect for the part he played in the Second World War.

“He will be remembered and our thoughts are with his family.”

The convoys included seamen from the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy.

The aim was to transport vital equipment and supplies, including food and armaments, to the Soviet Union to help people living there and to assist the military.

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