Almshouse WWII veteran honoured with prestigous Ushakov Medal
94 year-old Patrick Warren, a resident at The Seckford Almshouses in Woodbridge, has finally received further recognition for his efforts in World War Two with a special medal presentation that took place on Friday 29 May. Patrick was presented with the Ushakov medal by Suffolk Coastal MP, Therese Coffey, during a coffee morning event at Jubilee House, the Seckford Foundation’s residential care home.
The Ushakov medal is awarded to sailors who were part of the Arctic convoys during World War Two; a campaign to help transport crucial supplies to the Soviet Union in northern Russia. Described by Winston Churchill as the “worst journey in the world”, the convoys sailed through blinding snow storms and darkness whilst under attack from German U-boats and fighter planes. More than 3,000 men died during the campaign and, by May 1945, the Arctic route had claimed 104 merchant and 16 military vessels.
Due to a rule by the Foreign Office which did not allow British soldiers to receive a foreign medal for an act which happened more than five years ago, the Arctic convoy veterans didn’t receive any recognition for their bravery during the War until 2013, when the rule was broken and President Putin presented the first medals during a visit to London. Patrick, who said not a day goes by without a thought for his wartime days, says he is delighted to receive the Ushakov medal after a long-awaited 70 years.
Patrick joined the Royal Navy in April 1940 at age 19 and, after completing his training at Shotley in Suffolk, he joined the Mediterranean Fleet aboard HMS Foxhound along with 150 crew members. He was involved in many Atlantic convoys until the ship became damaged in an attack and had to go in for repair. When Patrick returned to duty on the HMS Foxhound he was issued with “winter woollies” and, in that moment, he knew what his next journey would be.
As the journey often resulted in the loss of ships and crew, most crews only undertook one Arctic convoy each. Patrick continued to serve aboard various convoys across the world, including to North Africa, Japan and Malta. Patrick also recalls taking a swim in the Mediterranean sea as a celebration on VE day as his ship was between Gibraltar and Malta. In 1946 Patrick left the Royal Navy and returned to his home in Suffolk with his wife, where he has lived and worked ever since.
Sarah Kopferschmitt, Head of Care at The Seckford Almshouses, said: “Patrick describes his wartime experience as “very exciting” and he always has many tales to tell. He has a clear recollection of many adventures, pranks he and his convoy got up to as well as the dangerous missions they undertook. He gave an outstanding and heroic service to this country during the War and we’re all thrilled to see him receive this much-deserved honour today.”
Patrick has lived at The Seckford Almshouses, on Seckford Street in Woodbridge, since moving there with his late wife many years ago.