Armed Forces Day 2013 - Ernest John French (Russian Convoys)
@PaulDeach talks to Russian Convoy Veteran Ernest John French at the Armed Forces Day Ceremony. One of only 200 living veterans who received the Arctic Star, an honour awarded for the first time this year (2013) in recognition of service on the dangerous maritime missions.The sailors worked to keep supplies flowing to the Soviet Union. John was only 18 years old and along with his crewmen battled extreme weather and German bombardment to help keep a supply line with Russia open. Veterans and politicians campaigned for many years for a specific medal to be created in recognition of service on the convoys.Between 1941 and 1945, merchant ships left Loch Ewe as well as the Clyde and ports in Iceland - to deliver supplies, weapons and ammunition. About 3,000 men died during the convoys. PQ17 was the most disastrous and infamous of the convoys. In July 1942, more than 20 vessels were sunk following orders to scatter because of fears of an attack by warships, which included the Tirpitz.