Russian Convoys hero pleads: '˜Give me my medal before it's too late'

A hero of the Russian Convoys has made what may be a last bid to receive a missing medal marking his wartime bravery.

Thursday, 16th November 2017, 5:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 6:29 am
Russian Convoys veteran Cristobal Campos

Former Merchant Navy mariner Cristobal Campos, 98, has appealed to the Russian authorities to speedily present him with the Medal of Ushakov.

Created in 1944, it is given in honour of those who have defended the country in wartime.

Cristobal Campos with son Michael

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Mr Campos, of Don View, West Boldon, applied for it three years ago, along with around 3,300 other UK Second World War veterans.

But he has yet to receive it, leaving the dad-of-two and great-grandfather fearing he has been forgotten.

He said: “This is an important medal and I would dearly love to be presented with it.

“I have applied for it and was told by the Russians a couple of years ago that I am entitled to it and even that I’m on their list of recipients.

Cristobal Campos with son Michael

“If I don’t receive it soon, I’ve a feeling they’ll end up giving it to me after I’ve died.”

Mr Campos was born in southern Spain, and in an eventful life, fought in the Spanish civil war of the 1930s against General Franco’s fascists.

He fled to Sierra Leone in 1941, before joining a coal barge heading to Tyneside.

Soon after, he joined the British Merchant Navy, risking his life by working in the engine room of the steam ship Ocean Viceroy on two convoy trips, in 1943 and 1944.

In 2013, his valour was recognised by the British government, which awarded him the Arctic Star medal.

His son Michael Campos, 64, a business development manager, of Stanley, Co Durham, said: “A lady at the Russian embassy has confirmed to me by phone that my dad is on their list.

“But that was about two years back and he’s still not been presented with it.

“He’s in very good health, but he does joke that at his age, he may not be here next week.

“When he meets up with his old friends and colleagues, they always ask him if he has yet been given the Ushakov medal.

“To receive the medal would be fantastic recognition of his services during the Second World War, and I hope the Russians make that happen soon.”

The Russian embassy in London did not respond for a request for comment.

In a statement on its website it says it is currently presenting the medal to British veterans of the Arctic Convoys.

By October 2013 over 3,300 veterans had applied, of which around 2,000 have been presented.

The statement adds: “While the Embassy makes everything in its power to expedite the process, it takes time and effort to reach out to each and every Arctic Convoys veteran.”