Louth war hero honoured with medal 68 years on

Geoff Holmes receives his Arctic Star from the Prime Minister David Cameron. Photo: Number 10
Geoff Holmes receives his Arctic Star from the Prime Minister David Cameron. Photo: Number 10
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A Louth man who braved ‘the worst journey in the world’ in the Second World War has finally been honoured with his comrades, 68 years after the combat ended.

Geoff Holmes, 85, of Ludgate was just 15 when he took to the seas in the Merchant Navy to supply the Russians in Murmansk, but now the war hero has been awarded an Arctic Convoy Star by Prime Minister David Cameron.

In a special ceremony at Downing Street on Tuesday, Geoff was one of 41 convoy survivors who were given the star along with Bomber Command veterans.

After a near 70-year delay, a review of military decorations by former diplomat Sir John Holmes concluded that the convoy and Bomber Command veterans had been treated ‘inconsistently’ with many of their counterparts.

The Prime Minister said he was ‘sorry’ it had taken 70 years for the men to be thanked by their country, calling them ‘a group of heroes’.

Described by Winston Churchill as ‘the worst journey in the world’, the Arctic Convoys saw ships of the Royal and Merchant Navies make perilous journeys in sub-zero temperatures to ensure vital supplies reached Russian shores.

Geoff concluded: “It was great to get the Arctic Star, but we got our medals when we were there all those years ago. Our memories are our medals.”

Read the full story, including Geoff’s remarkable memories of his experiences, in the Leader on Wednesday.