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Swanage man is a real Russian Convoy Star
WAR veteran Ron Harvey has been awarded the Arctic Star medal more than 70 years after serving on the Russian convoys.
The 91-year-old from Swanage was a Royal Navy gunner during the Second World War, and in 1942 survived a devastating German attack.
Three ships, including Ron’s Royal Navy tanker Grey Ranger, were sunk by a German U-boat during a coordinated air and sea attack in the Norwegian Sea.
“You could see about 70 planes coming in low, right on the wave tops,” Ron recalled. “You’re counting them and thinking there’s no way to stop them all.
“When you’re distracted by what’s in the air, that’s when the U-boats get you.”
More than 3,000 sailors died between 1941-1945, ensuring Soviet Union supply routes remained open.
The Arctic Star was announced by Prime Minister David Cameron, last year, following decades of campaigning by veterans.
Ron’s convoy was attacked on the way back to Scotland, near Jan Mayen island.
American merchant ship Bellingham and British merchant vessel Ocean Voice were the other ships sunk.
Ron said: “I could see the Bellingham had been torpedoed. I could see the men running about on deck.
“It was a big ship and I saw it go completely upside down, the whole ship just somersaulted over. You’re looking at it as though it’s not real, you cannot believe your eyes.”
Ron recalls the Grey Ranger lurching over when the U-boat torpedo struck.
He added: “I remember one of the German planes whizzing past, his wingtips were almost touching us.
“The tail gunner was firing at me and we were so close I could have waved at him.”
Ron managed to get into a lifeboat and was quickly picked up by a rescue boat.
He said: “I never had that fear.
“A lot of men didn’t survive.”
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