Harold Beswick, a Second World War veteran from Reddish, has received a medal from the Russian Government seventy years after the end of the war following enquiries by the local MP and the hard work of his daughter.
British veterans of the Arctic convoys are eligible for the Admiral Ushakov Medal for the courage and bravery they displayed during their service. The Russian Government and the UK Ministry of Defence agreed on a comprehensive list of British veterans who were eligible.
The convoys were crucial to Allied victory in the war, as it is unlikely the Russians would have been able to sustain a huge war effort without resources from the west. The journey was notoriously dangerous – around 3,000 British servicemen had been lost by May 1945, and Churchill called it ‘the worst journey in the world.’
Mr Beswick was due to receive the medal at a ceremony in Manchester Town Hall last year, but personal circumstances prevented him from attending, and he found it very difficult to receive the medal another way.
The medal was eventually collected from the Russian Embassy by the local MP, Andrew Gwynne, and presented to Mr Beswick at his home along with his daughter, Patricia, and her husband.
Andrew Gwynne MP said:
“Presenting this medal to Mr Beswick was a rare privilege. A big part of my job is helping people who feel lost in the system, and he should have been sent his medal months ago.
“It shouldn’t be a struggle for convoy veterans to receive these medals seventy years after the end of the war, and so I am just glad Mr Beswick now has his.”
If there are any other local veterans of the Arctic Convoys who think they may be eligible for the Ushakov Medal, please get in touch with Andrew Gwynne MP’s constituency office.