Family’s posthumous Arctic Star medal

Royal Navy Engineer Brian Youn has been posthumously awarded the Arctic Star
Royal Navy Engineer Brian Youn has been posthumously awarded the Arctic Star

A Berwickshire family has received a posthumous Arctic Star medal for their father and grandfather Brian Young who was part of the Arctic convoys during World War 2.

Brenda Bell, who lives in Burnmouth, received the medal in the post this week, after her son Stewart, who lives in Coldstream, applied online on behalf of the family.

The Arctic Star medal.

The Arctic Star medal.

According to Churchill, the Arctic convoys endured “the worst journey in the world” to deliver aid to Russia during the war but it was not until 2013 that their contribution to the war effort was fully recognised by awarding those who took part with an Arctic Star.

Brian Young was a Royal Navy engineer, chief engine room articifier, and served from 1938 to 1953. During that time he was involved in patrolling the Denmark Strait escorting the ships convoys to Russia.

Arctic veterans always believed their campaign was different from that in the Atlantic (keeping Britain’s sea lanes open) and that it should have been recognised with a specific medal.

However, it took 70 years for the British Government to agree and in 2013 Prime Minister David Cameron ordered the medals to be designed after a long-running campaign by survivors, and a review of medals carried out by Whitehall.

“My grandad was also involved in ‘Operation Excess’ which delivered one ship from Gibraltar to Malta with three ships continuing on to Piraeus,” said Stewart.

“The operation was coordinated with two ship convoy MW 5.5 from Alexandria and nine ship return convoy ME 6.

“The convoys arrived safely with 10,000 short tons of supplies, but the Royal Navy lost a cruiser (HMS Southampton), with another cruiser (HMS Gloucester) and an aircraft carrier (HMS Illustrious) badly damaged and a destroyer damaged beyond repair.

“This was the first action to involve the Luftwaffe.

“He was also involved in ‘Operation White’, a British attempt to deliver 14 aircraft to Malta from the aircraft carrier HMS Argus, on November 17, 1940.

“The operation was thwarted by the presence of the Italian Fleet at sea, which prompted a premature take-off of the fighters, and bad weather, with the result that only five aircraft reached Malta.

“Operation White was one of several so-called ‘Club Runs’ that supplied short-range fighters for the defence of Malta .

“He was also in Nagasaki two weeks after the atomic bomb was dropped and also served with the UN in Korea.”