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Medals legacy of Russian convoys hero

Convoy ceremony ...Coun Tom Hanson accepts framed Russian convoy medals and and memorabilia from Val Fay, awarded to his late father, Jimmy, watched by Couns Fay Cunningham and Arthur Meeks.

Convoy ceremony ...Coun Tom Hanson accepts framed Russian convoy medals and and memorabilia from Val Fay, awarded to his late father, Jimmy, watched by Couns Fay Cunningham and Arthur Meeks.

A BRAVE merchant seaman, honoured for his part in the famous Russian convoys during the Second World War, has been commemorated in his South Tyneside home town.

Jimmy Fay took part in the famous mercy missions to the starving people of Russia from 1941 to 1945.

More than 100 Allied ships and 3,000 sailors lost their lives as they took vital supplies to the Russian people after the invasion by Nazi Germany.

Mr Fay, who rarely spoke about his time on the convoys, was one of the thousands of men who risked their lives ferrying food, fuel, raw materials and fighter planes to the Soviets across the Arctic Ocean, facing constant danger from German torpedoes, plus pack ice, raging storms and thick fog.

In 1987, Mr Fay was given the Freedom of Russia and presented with a special medal from Alexey Nikiforov, a counsellor with the USSR Embassy, in a ceremony in Newcastle.

The family of the late Mr Fay has presented the medal and his Russian convoy memorabilia to Jarrow Town Hall, where it is now on permament display.

His son, Val Fay, 68, of Roman Road, Jarrow, said: “As a Jarrow man, born and bred, my father would have been so proud to see his Russian convoy medal on display.

“He rarely spoke about his experiences on the convoys, and he must have lost a lot of pals during the crossings

“But there was one time we were in Jarrow Ex-Servicemen’s Club and he said the people of Russia were so hungry, they were reduced to eating grass.

“It was a great occasion when we went to Newcastle to see him presented with his medal and receive the Freedom of Russia from a representative from the Russian Embassy. It was the highest honour he could have received from Russia.”

Mr Fay, who died in February, 2009, aged 86, sailed from several ports in Scotland from 1941 until 1945, joining fellow merchant seamen on the perilous route, which British wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill, pictured, described as “the most dangerous journey in the world”.

The letter accompanying his Russian convoy medal applauds Mr Fay and fellow Allied seamen “who took part in the efforts, which had finally brought about the defeat of our common enemy”.

It added: “The decision to award this medal in each case is taken in Moscow by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, the highest authority in our country.”

Twitter: @terrykelly16

 

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