Veterans told not to accept medal

Susan Hambleton wearing her father's Medal of Ushakov and War Medal.
Susan Hambleton wearing her father's Medal of Ushakov and War Medal.

Susan Hambleton of Tura Beach has only recently started to uncover the full story of her father's wartime history which has resulted in Ms Hambleton and her two granddaughters, Khyla and Jaylah Hambleton proudly wearing his medals.

Ms Hambleton's father, Reginald Adams was born in the UK and saw service in the Royal Navy aboard HMS Verulam, a V-Class destroyer.

Although only launched in April 1943, in just the remaining two years of WWII HMS Verulam saw action in the Arctic, Normandy, Norway, Malaya and Burma.

The Arctic Convoys transported four million tons of supplies and munitions to Russia between 1941 and 1945.

The convoys braved freezing temperatures and the German armed forces to get war supplies to the Soviet Union. The toll was terrible and by May 1945, the Arctic route had claimed 104 merchant and 16 military vessels. Vessels were covered in ice and the men's clothing was less than adequate for the conditions.

More than 3,000 Allied seamen lost their lives to the freezing conditions and attacks during the trips to ports in the Arctic Circle

For his part in serving on Verulam and taking supplies to a war-torn Russia, Mr Adams was awarded the Medal of Ushakov but it was not until almost 70 years later that he received the medal in Australia.

The medal is named after Fyodor Ushakov, an 18th Century naval commander who never lost a battle and is the patron saint of the Russian navy.

Khyla and Jaylah Hambleton wearing the medals of their great grandfather Reginald Adams.

Khyla and Jaylah Hambleton wearing the medals of their great grandfather Reginald Adams.

It was created in 1944 and is awarded to veterans "for personal courage and valour shown during World War Two while participating in the Arctic Convoys".

But there was bureaucratic debate over whether the veterans could accept a medal from Russia. The Royal Naval Association entered the debate calling on the British government to allow veterans to accept the award.

"The Ushakov medal is a high Russian award for courage and bravery during operations with a risk to life," the Royal Naval Association said.

It took the view that "the Arctic Convoy Campaign was exceptionally rigorous and of huge strategic and diplomatic importance to our Russian allies" and asked the British government to "show compassion and flexibility to allow Arctic Convoy Veterans to not only accept, but to wear the medal with pride".

It was 2012 before Mr Adams finally received his medal which Ms Hambleton was wearing on Thursday morning along with his War Medal.

Her granddaughter Khyla was wearing her great grandfather's Arctic Star which was awarded to those who served in areas above the Arctic Circle during WWII. The Arctic Star is granted for operational service north of the Arctic Circle and commemorates service in the Arctic Convoys to North Russia.

Khyla was also wearing her great grandfather's 1939-1945 Star.

Granddaughter Jaylah was wearing her great grandfather's Burma Star awarded for operational service in the Bay of Bengal and in the Malacca Strait. In addition she wore the Atlantic Star given to those who served in the Atlantic and North Russian Convoys.

Mr Adams received his Medal of Ushakov in 2012 just a couple of years before his death.