Leeds war veteran Kenneth Grindrod has finally been rewarded for his bravery on the Arctic convoys – after a 70 year wait.
The 88-year-old Navy veteran was a seaman on ships escorting the Arctic convoys, which delivered fuel, food and munitions to Russia during the Second World War.
Mr Grindrod, of Headingley, was presented the Arctic Star medal by Commodore Andrew Jameson, commander of Maritime Reserves, in a special ceremony at HMS Ceres Division (Carlton Barracks) in Leeds. The incredible bravery of men on the Arctic convoy was never recognised by the British Government, until a government review last year. Mr Grindrod volunteered for the Navy in 1943 when he turned 18 and after training he joined HMS Norfolk, in northern Scotland, providing cover for a convoy returning from Russia.
In 1944, he was drafted to HMS Whimbrel – part of the famous Captain Johnny Walker’s second escort group, the Royal Navy’s most successful anti-submarine warfare group. It shot down six German aircraft and destroyed four U-boats.
Mr Grindrod said they were issued with Arctic clothing, long Johns and sheepskin coats, but: “It was very uncomfortable and cold - and rough at times.”
He said there were five ships in the convoy and all would gather if one got into contact with the Germans. “They would gather round drop depth charges. They didn’t have much chance of surviving to be quite honest.”
Despite the constant risk of being torpedoed, Mr Grindrod said he doesn’t remember feeling fear. “You were just doing another convoy really. As far as I was concerned it wasn’t dangerous – it didn’t really seem dangerous. It’s only afterwards when people start talking about this convoy that it seems to be.” He was also on board HMS Whimbrel for the D-Day landings.