Better late than never for Peter!
A WAR veteran has finally received a medal 60 years after fighting a gruelling Arctic naval campaign. Though Weston pensioner Peter Rattue has twice been decorated by the Russians for his part in harrowing World War Two supply convoys to the USSR, the Col
A WAR veteran has finally received a medal 60 years after fighting a gruelling Arctic naval campaign.Though Weston pensioner Peter Rattue has twice been decorated by the Russians for his part in harrowing World War Two supply convoys to the USSR, the Cold War put all hope of a British medal on ice.But now, after decades of peace, Mr Rattue, aged 88, has received the Arctic Emblem from the Ministry of Defence.Mr Rattue, of Ellenborough Park North, said: "I'm delighted to have received the emblem, but I think it's pretty disgusting that we had to wait that long. But I suppose there were international circumstances to blame."The arctic convoys struggled through dogged Nazi naval and air attacks to deliver vital military kit and other supplies to the Russians in the early 1940s.Mr Rattue was no stranger to danger when he joined the campaign, having survived an explosion aboard a heavily laden minesweeper.He became a communications decoder aboard the 250-man converted channel ferry Ulster Queen.He said: "After setting out from Iceland, apart from the severe weather conditions, the convoy was hounded by submarines, dive bombers and torpedo bombers, often in unison."German spotter aircraft would circle the convoy for hours just out of gunnery range. Action stations was almost continuous and losses were heavy. My second convoy to Archangel in September set out knowing of the annihilation of its predecessor."Our naval escort evaporated as the convoy progressed, the large ships turning back when the threat from the German fleet receded."But two columns of the convoy were totally wiped out - 27 of the 40 ships were lost. We remained in Archangel for nearly two months in increasing darkness under frequent air attack from Norway."For entertainment we held rowing races and watched films, concerts and ate at the 'Archangel International Club' set up there."On the return journey it was the terrible weather rather than enemy interference that was the main problem."Our ship was separated from the convoy and suffered structural damage, but we made it back to Iceland."Mr Rattue went on to see action in the Mediterranean and Europe as a naval intelligence officer.