Honoured by two nations

Peter Daniel with his Arctic Star, presented by President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister David Cameron at a ceremony at 10 Downing Street
Peter Daniel with his Arctic Star, presented by President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister David Cameron at a ceremony at 10 Downing Street

An ex-Royal Navy sailor has been awarded a medal in recognition of one of the most dangerous operations of World War Two.

Peter Daniel, now aged 88, who lives in Foulden, was presented with the newly-minted Arctic Star, awarded to those who served on the Arctic Convoys which ran the gauntlet of U-boats and enemy aircraft to keep the USSR in vital supplies.

Peter visited Downing Street for the presentation with his daughters and granddaughters.

There he and other veterans of the convoys were met by Prime Minister David Cameron and the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

“Mr Cameron and I...well, we didn’t have much to say to one another,” Peter said, but Mr Putin, an ex-Lieutenant Colonel in the KGB, made much more of an impression.

“He had a very firm handshake,” Peter remembers. He points to a photo of the two statesmen making speeches at a podium that he managed to take despite there being a ‘ban’ on cameras at the event: “It’s their fault if the security that they had working in there didn’t see me. Look at Putin, there, how he stands, just like a fighter!

“And after he’d shaken hands with us all, my daughter goes and gives him a right earful, about the situation in Syria at the moment,” Peter chuckles. “She really laid into him.

“Mr Putin didn’t reply, he just made out that he couldn’t understand her.”

As well as the Arctic Star, Peter also received a special ceremonial dagger - but he modestly played down the eye-catching present, saying: “I suppose it would be alright for cutting cheese with, but not much else.”

Veterans of the Arctic Convoys were invited to apply for Arctic Star medals earlier this year, after more than half a century of lobbying for their recognition.

The government’s decision to award medals to veterans of the Arctic Convoys, one of the most dangerous operations of World War Two, has been welcomed by veteran groups.

Speaking to the ‘Berwickshire’ previously, Peter pointed out that several Russian attempts to award British sailors medals had been rebuffed by successive British governments.

“They definitely appreciate the efforts that we made much more than over here,” said Peter.

He was presented with his medal as part of the first tranche of veterans to be recognised for their services in the North Atlantic.

The plan is for surviving veterans to receive their medals first, with posthumous awards to be made later in the year.

Peter joined the Royal Navy straight from school, aged just 18, and almost immediately found himself sailing between Scotland and Arkhangelsk in northern Russia.