A Louth man who braved ‘the worst journey in the world’ in WWII has finally been honoured with his comrades, 68 years after the combat ended.
Geoff Holmes was 15 when he took to the sea in the Merchant Navy to supply the Russians and awarded an Arctic Convoy Star by Prime Minister David Cameron last week.
Geoff was one of 41 survivors to be given the star after a near 70-year delay which ended when a review of military medals found the group had been treated inconsistently.
The PM said he was ‘so sorry’ it had taken 70 years for the men to be thanked, calling them ‘a group of heroes’.
Described by Winston Churchill as ‘the worst journey in the world’, the Arctic Convoys saw ships make perilous journeys to ensure supplies reached Russian shores.
“It was a really good day, we were looked after so well. The PM just said he was sorry it had taken so long!” Geoff said.
“Often in the winter it would be dark 24 hours a day, the winters were really bad.
“It was a lonely world, looking at it now. I was 15 when I first went, it was like jumping from short pants into being a man.”
Geoff has lived in Louth for 30 years and has been married twice and though now disabled, he remains as sharp as ever.
He continued: “We never looked for any reward. I suppose I don’t really know how I feel now. There are not that many of us left, the lads that were lost and gave their yesterdays for our tomorrows, they are more or less who we went to Downing Street for.”
The PM said: “I can’t think of a group of people that I am more proud to have in Number 10. I am only sorry it has taken 70 years to get to here and to say thank you for what you did.
Geoff concluded: “It was great to get the star, but we got our medals when we were there all those years ago. Our memories are our medals.”