An 89-year-old man from Hanover Gardens in Nailsworth in, who was born in the same year as the first transatlantic telephone call from New York to London, has received a long-awaited service medal at a ceremony at the Russian Embassy in London.
Ken Robinson was presented with the Medal of Ushakov in recognition of the role he played in the treacherous Artic Convoys which ferried vital arms and supplies to Britain’s Soviet allies during the Second World War. The convoys were described by Sir Winston Churchill as the “worst journey in the world”.
Mr Robinson undertook many missions through the freezing and immensely dangerous conditions to keep the supply lines with Russia open during the war and he even survived a torpedo attack by a notorious German U-boat.
Born in Batley in Yorkshire in 1927 he worked as a radio operator before joining the Merchant Navy to serve on merchant ships. The Arctic Convoys sailed to northern ports in the Soviet Union – primarily Arkhangelsk and Murmansk. Some 78 convoys took place between August 1941 and May 1945, transporting more than four million tonnes of vital supplies.
Ken said: “I was delighted to receive the medal after all this time and it was lovely to go to the Russian Embassy with my daughter Veronica, son in law Hugh and grandson Oliver. The Officials at the Embassy were charming. During my time in the Merchant Navy I was a young man and found the work exciting, you don’t think about the danger when you are young.”
Dame Clare Tickell, Chief Executive of Hanover Housing Association said: “We are delighted that Ken has been honoured with this prestigious and well-deserved award. His bravery and service were extraordinary and we feel very proud to know him.”
The Ushakov Medal is a Russian military award named in honour of Admiral Fyodor Ushakov who never lost a battle and was proclaimed patron saint of the Russian Navy.
During the four years that the convoys took place around 1400 merchant ships set sail, escorted by ships of the Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, and the U.S. Navy. Some 85 merchant vessels and 16 Royal Navy warships were lost during the campaign