Arctic medal 70 years after war

Gilbert Dunn, 89, with some of his medals. The Arctic Star is third from left.
Gilbert Dunn, 89, with some of his medals. The Arctic Star is third from left.
Share this article

A former submarine detector who served in the Arctic Convoys during the Second World War has been awarded an Arctic Star medal 70 years after his service.

Gilbert Dunn, 89, was just 17 when he joined the navy and one of his first jobs was on the Artic Convoys, delivering vital supplies to Soviet allies in the icy waters of Northern Russia.

It was famously described by Winston Churchill as “the worst journey in the world.”

Today, speaking about his Arctic Star medal, Gilbert said: “It’s 70 years too late, but it will be nice to pass on.”

The medal was created by the government just last year to honour the remaining naval veterans who served in the campaign

Gilbert said: “As soon as I received this new medal about six weeks ago, I had it mounted with my other medals.”

Remembering the mission, he said: “It was indescribable, Churchill had it right. Up there, the temperature was 40 degrees below. If you went up on deck and put your hand on the bar, you would have left half your hand behind. It was nothing to see waves 30 or 40 feet high.

“I remember one day, I was at Murmansk and nobody was allowed on shore. I was on the gangway and saw this bloke taking pictures of the ship.

“I told the captain, and he said ‘we can’t do anything about it but if he tries to board the ship - shoot him’.

“I had on a pair of gloves, mittens and sheepskin mittens, so how he expected me to fire a revolver I’ll never know!”