A SECOND World War veteran has been awarded a prestigious Russian medal for valour at sea.
Frederick Harris, 90, served as a Fleet Air Arm aircraft fitter on HMS Indefatigable, which was posted to protect convoys in the Arctic Ocean as they delivered vital supplies to Murmansk for the Soviet war effort.
On Tuesday he travelled to the Russian Embassy in Kensington Palace Gardens, London, to accept the Medal of Ushakov from ambassador Alexander Yakovenko, alongside 23 other veterans of the Arctic convoys.
Originally set up in 1944 to honour the USSR’s own service personnel, the Ushakov medal has since last year been awarded to sailors from the UK who have contributed to the Russia’s past defence.
Mr Harris, who lives in Weyman’s Avenue, Kinson, said: “It was a very nice ceremony, the ambassador made a short speech and said how happy he was to see us there, then they played both national anthems and presented us with the medals.
“I was overwhelmed, it was the most remarkable day for me. I got the Arctic Star last year but that just came through the letter box.
“It wasn’t nice up on the convoys and the Russians were quick to recognise what was done there.
“It is a really beautiful medal and I shall wear it with pride.”
Originally from Kent, Mr Harris was evacuated from Jersey at the start of the war and worked as a civilian technician at a Fleet Air Arm base in Winchester.
He joined the service in 1944 and was posted with HMS Indefatigable in the North Sea and the Arctic at the age of 20.
His squadron was first tasked with trapping the feared German battleship Tirpitz in a fjord, where it was later destroyed by RAF bombers.
After three months battling freezing conditions and stormy seas in Europe, the ship and Petty Officer Harris were redeployed to the Pacific theatre, where they were at sea non-stop for more than 100 days.
They took part in the invasion of Okinawa where the ship was hit by a kamikaze attack.
“The invasion was hell. But it was amazing to see so many ships stretching to the horizon in all directions,” he said.
The Indefatigable was one of the few ships permitted in Tokyo bay as the Japanese surrender was signed on the USS Missouri on September 2, 1945. After the war, Mr Harris continued working in aviation engineering in Jersey and for Vickers.