David Arthur Kennedy (1926 – 2023) Memorial Page

With great sadness we learn about the departure of another Second World War veteran, David Kennedy, who  took part in the “Evening of History and Memories” in Churchill college in September 2015 where, together with other Arctic convoy veterans, he shared memories of his wartime experience.  David was featured in our VE-75 presentation in May 2020 (page 11) and in the brochure Remembering the Second World War published in November 2020 (page 11)

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David was born on 19 March 1926 in Wood Green in North London, the youngest of 4 boys: Stanley, Charlie, and Dennis and they had an adopted sister, Jean.
David joined the Navy at the age of 17. Although he was underage, that didn’t stop him.

He served on the Russian Convoys in WWII and was awarded the Arctic Star along with many other medals which he wore with pride. Recently he was awarded the French Legion d’honneur for his work in the mine sweeping the channel in preparation for the D Day landings. That was a very proud day.

David married his beloved Doreen in 1949, then they emigrated to Australia. Doreen was beautiful and looked very young for her age so that people on the ship often gave David disapproving looks! Sadly, life in Australia didn’t quite work out as planned and the couple returned to London. They lived at 158 Drury Lane which was a café run by David’s mum. David soon got a job as a Night Porter in Covent Garden market and soon they moved into their own council flat in Seven Dials. David remained at Covent Garden market for the best part of 40 years.

Eventually, they moved to Wood Green and David became a very active founding member of Tottenham Sports Centre, running the skating club and the table tennis team. Notably the team travelled to Holland where they played against a Dutch team and got slaughtered! Still today, whenever any of David’s family meet someone from the past they always ask, “how’s your dad”. He got his children involved in sports and made them feel at ease often through “taking the mick” out of them.

David was an avid Tottenham fan and took the family to Tottenham High Road in 1961 to celebrate with crowds of fans as the Spurs team travelled along the High Road in their bus holding the trophy aloft, in a sea of blue and white! They’d only gone and won the double! David joined the Freemasons and was social secretary for many years. The Ladies Nights arranged by David were legendary and he was always the last one to leave the dance floor!

David and Doreen moved to Cornwall in the 1980’s but David was still working and travelled from Covent Garden market every weekend for 5 years until his retirement, when he joined Doreen in their Cornish home. The staff at Paddington Station knew David as “the flower man” as he was always armed with bunches of flowers, fruit, and veg from the market to take home.

In later life David joined the Russian Convoy club and, with his fellow veterans, travelled to Moscow and St. Petersburg where they were worshipped as heroes. Along with many of his fellow Russian Convoy veterans, he was invited to HMS Belfast where they were given the highest honour in the Russian Navy, the Ushakov medal. Another proud day.

David was also involved in the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans and went on trips, notably to Normandy and many other places with them. Their journeys would start off in a long line of London taxis – a sight for sore eyes. David was proud to collect for the ‘Taxi Charity for Military Veterans’ at various London Underground stations.

He was a wonderful dad to his 3 children, Stephen, Lesley and Tracy, and a brilliant grandad to his 6 grandchildren, Jesse, Samantha, Kirstie, Lauren, Emily and Justin. He leaves behind 5 great grandchildren, Quinn, Isla, Charley, Zakkary and Henry.

Sadly, David passed away on Monday 30th January 2023, aged 96 years.
He will be missed – a light has gone out.

NB: This text is based on the Eulogy kindly provided by David’s family.

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VE day 2024

Russian Arctic Convoys veterans in Churchill College, Cambridge. September 2015.

These days in May we are marking the end of the Second World War in Europe and remember all those who gave their lives for the Allied victory. The CamRuSS team had an honour of knowing and maintaining connections with the veterans of the Second World War residing in the UK and Russia. We organised meetings and informal exchanges where veterans shared their life stories and wartime experiences, as we strongly believe that those lessons should be remembered and passed down through generations.
In 2020 we published a brochure ‘Second World War Veterans in Britain 2020’ , a selection of short biographies of those who took part in the Arctic Convoys. There are only three of them still with us today.

Today, we send our heartfelt greetings and thanks to Capt Rolf Monteith, John Wass, Thomas Ward and Eleanora Bulatova in the UK as well as those in Russia and across the world who lived through those tragic and testing times. Our thoughts are with all those whose lives have been impacted by the current military conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East. We wish and pray for peace and reconciliation.

You may view a copy of the ‘Remembering the Second World War’ publication with autobiographies of 15 veterans, 20 personal stories and tributes to family members who experienced the war first-hand – during the Blitz bombings or during active service with the Royal Air Force or on the Eastern Front, and listen to a personal message by Capt Rolf Monteith recorded in 2020.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tony Snelling (1923-2024) Memorial Page

Tony Snelling at 'Art at the Front' exhibition in London, 2016

Tony Snelling at ‘Art at the Front’ exhibition in London, 2016

The year of 2024 marked the departure of one of the special members of our community – Cornelius Anthony Ryder Snelling, known affectionately as Tony Snelling, who celebrated his 100th birthday on 1st April 2023.

Katya Parker and I first encountered Tony on 9th of May 2015, at the Soviet Soldiers Memorial next to the Imperial War Museum in London. He was there with a group of the Second World War veterans-members of the Kennington Russian Arctic Convoys Club, chaired by Jimmy and Dianne Pitts at the time.

Later that year, Tony and his veteran-friends came to visit CamRuSS in Cambridge to share memories from their wartime experiences. The Evening of History and Memories with British Arctic Convoy Veterans took place in Churchill College. Tony stood out with his kind and gentle manners, soft voice and shining sense of humour. Those of us who were fortunate to experience his compassionate presence in our meetings, will have undoubtedly been touched by his optimism and zest for life, which he managed to preserve until his last days.

Tony suffered a serious heart condition and had to go through a series of surgeries, but one wouldn’t expect to hear a word of complaint from him; rather expressions of gratefulness for his eventful life, admiration for the world and people surrounding him. He was deeply loved and cared by his family: daughter Susan, son Peter, as well as 5 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren. We are grateful for the opportunity to share Tony’s eulogy by Mark Holmes, Tony’s Son-in-Law and Susan’s husband, which allows to better understand the outstanding character and fascinating story of Tony’s life. There is also a copy of a captivating interview by Robert Veitch taken in November 2020 for Sussex Living Magazine, where Tony reflects on his service in the British Navy during the years of the Second World War.

Having seen and lived through so much – which for most of us is impossible to imagine – Tony’s unwavering optimism is an inspiration to us all. He is one of those unforgettable people that you look up to and feel inspired by their example. Tony’s legacy and our fond memories of his encounters make an important part of our community’s memorial archive.

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Edward Ned Ruffle (1926 – 2024) Memorial page

It is with great sadness that we learnt of the departure of Edward (Ned) Ruffle, a Second World War and Arctic Convoy veteran.
Ned was a member of the North Atlantic and Russian Convoys Club and met many former Navy comrades there. On Remembrance Sunday he would be at the Cenotaph in London and in later years at the Hersham Memorial – wearing his white beret with pride. On behalf of Arctic Convoy veterans he had the honour of carrying and laying their wreath at the Cenotaph.

Edward (Ned) Ruffle was born in his grandparents’ thatched cottage in Walton-on-Thames on 10 October 1926. He had 4 siblings, attended the local boys school “Ambleside” and had many good friends.
Ned was married to Chrissie for 63 years, they had 2 children, Eleisha and Gerard, and lived in his family home in Hersham for 72 years. Everybody in Hersham knew him as a kind, considerate, welcoming, friendly and very happy person.In 2005 Ned was invited to a reception in 10 Downing Street hosted by Tony Blair to thank the Arctic Convoy Veterans. In 2014 he was presented with Ushakov Medal at the Russian Embassy in London.

Ned passed away on 6 January 2024 aged 97.

Ned Ruffle (left) with his friend. 1943. Photo from the Ruffle family archive.

Ned’s recollection of his time in the Royal Navy

“Working as a clerk for The Steel Scaffolding Company, I had a desire for something more exciting and wanted to join the merchant navy. After a very heated debate with a good friend (Bill Mant) on the merits of Merchant Navy vs Royal Navy, we decided to join up and made our way to the recruitment centre in Acton the very next day.

I volunteered for the Royal Navy as a boy seaman (aged 17) in December 1943. I was paid 5/- (25p) a fortnight.  I was “called to serve” on 29th December, 1943 and went to HMS Collingwood in Fareham Hampshire. There was six to eight weeks training as a seaman before being transferred to Stockheath Camp in Havant, waiting to be drafted to a ship.

Around this time and particularly in this area you could see the preparation for the Second Front. I recall one day, they cleared the lower deck and asked for volunteers for landing craft to support the Second Front by taking one step forward. Being young and new recruits everyone stepped forward! The next instruction was “One step forward all those men on Jankers (punishment)” Why were so many on Jankers? I recall it was a Sunday and I was Duty Watch 2nd of Port, thus confined to camp. The others were told that no one was to go more than 10 miles from the camp. Being young mate-lots no notice was taken of the orders and everyone headed to Havant station taking trains to: London, Portsmouth, Southampton.

Generally, when the lads after a night out were coming back late, they never went through the main gate but instead found a way to climb over a fence to get back into camp. On this occasion as they were climbing back in many got caught. The following day, all of them got ten days stoppage of leave together withten days stoppage of pay. They also became the volunteers for landing craft duties to support the Second Front!

I was drafted to Greenock in Scotland to join the escort carrier HMS Vindex. She was a converted merchant ship of the Nairana class escort carriers, launched in May 1943 and commissioned on 3rd December 1943. We had a crew of 700 and this was a happy ship, with great shipmates. We conducted a few flying trials for our Swordfish aircraft around Ailsa Craig. We then had gunnery practise in Scapa Flow, where we shot at flying socks which were being towed by aircraft. I remember taking cargo off a lighter and seeing RUSSIA marked on a box; I said to a shipmate “seems we will be heading for Russia, we thought our destination was supposed to be secret”.

Our first convoy to Russia was JW59. We went into the Kola Inlet and dropped anchor in Venga Bay watching over the merchant ships going into Murmansk to discharge their cargo. This convoy had 34 merchant ships and was also supported by the battleship Archangelsk (formerly HMS Royal Sovereign) and 12 Russian PT boats.

I recall, in November 1944 we were anchored in Greenock. I was “cook of the mess” on that occasion. I cleared up the mess after breakfast and went on deck to put the leftovers down the shute. I then saw the Queen Mary drifting towards us! She, bow first hit HMS Vindex damaging the aft port pompom and the cat walk. Fortunately, there was not too much damage to us. In total I served on 8 convoys: JW59, JW61, JW63, JW66, RA59A, RA61, RA63, RA66.

A few things I remember on some of these convoys.

RA63: on this the convoy we had to take shelter in the Faroes to escape such severe gales.
RA66: the German U-boats were waiting for us on our way out of the Kola Inlet (29th April 1945) but our destroyer and frigates went into action blasting them out of the water to ensure the convoy got through safely. However, HMS Goodall (Captain class frigate) was torpedoed, her sister ship HMS Honeysuckle went alongside to take off survivors. We took the 30 survivors home on HMS Vindex. We arrived back into Scapa Flow on May 8th 1945, the day the war ended in Europe.

After the Arctic Convoys and two weeks leave we joined the Pacific Fleet. We departed from Greenock for Belfast in August 1945 to take on board American aircraft to support the war in the Far East. The aircraft filled the hanger and the flight deck. We arrived in Sydney the day the atom bomb was dropped in Hiroshima. We then moved to Brisbane to take on provisions bound for Hong Kong. In Hong Kong we took on board Australian POWs, many of them suffering from Beriberi. These men had cut up motor tyres fastened to their feet as their only footwear. On the way back to Sydney we pulled into Manus Island to give the POWs a run ashore. I will never forget as we sailed under Sydney Harbour Bridge with all the Australian POWs on the flight deck, each had tears in their eyes. All the ships in the harbour were sounding victory blasts on their sirens. This was followed by a tikka tape tour of Sydney.

The next trip from Honk Kong to Sydney was to return civilian POWs to freedom. Captain Baylis (our “skipper”) allocated some of the ships company to look after them. A few of them appeared to try and take advantage of this and when they wanted something would snap their fingers and say to the allocated sailors “Boy, do this, do that”. Naturally, this did not go down too well with the lads. Our skipper took this in hand and directly addressed the civilian POWs and told them straight “You are not on a P&O Liner! Talk to my men nicely or they will be taken away”.

Christmas 1946 we took Australian servicemen domiciled in Tasmania to Hobart for their Christmas leave. Also aboard was the Governor of Tasmania Sir Hugh Binney and his wife. We then went onto Kury in Japan, where I and some of my shipmates went aboard a Japanese tug boat that took us ashore. We walked the ruins of Hiroshima. Returning home we called into: Ceylon (now Shi Lanka), Mauritius, Durban and Simonstown (South Africa) before coming into port in Plymouth. Our journey ended when we docked in Rosyth.”

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Greetings for the Lunar New Year

The CamRuSS would like to congratulate our members with the Lunar New Year, the Year of the Wood Dragon, which begins on Saturday, the 10th of February. It is widely celebrated in Asiatic part of Russia, in the Buddhist regions in particular, as well as across Asian countries.

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Sid Frances Tiffin (1924 – 2023) Memorial page

It is with great sadness that we heard of the departure of Sid Tiffin, a Second World War veteran. Our thoughts are with Sid’s family, son Stephen, daughter-in-law Irene and their children and grandchildren.

Sid Francis Tiffin was born on the 23rd September 1924 in Kingston-upon-Thames, the youngest of five siblings. He went to St John’s Primary, and later to St Luke’s School, which he left at the age of 14 and started working at RG Whittaker’s factory that manufactured laundry equipment. When the war started in September 1939 the factory was repurposed for military production, fitting army tanks with extra fuel tanks. He worked 48 hours a week getting paid three old pennies an hour, but was too young for overtime, although he was paid five shillings for night-time fire watching at the factory.

In 1942 Sid decided to join the Royal Navy. His call-up papers and warrant arrived with a one-way train ticket to Portsmouth. He was underage by a couple of months but still was accepted. The three months’ training at HMS Collingwood that followed soon knocked him into Navy shape.

In 1942, after finishing his training on HMS Collingwood, Sid was sent to the naval barracks in Portsmouth. From there it took two days by train to get to the Scapa Flow fleet moored off the coast of Scotland. On that journey they were bombed and machine-gunned by German fighters. On arrival at Scapa Flow, Sid stayed at an old battle ship “Iron Duke”, while waiting for HMS Berwick to return from convoy duty. Sid served on the Arctic convoys delivering essential supplies to Russia. The winter of 1943 was horrendous with temperatures of minus 30C with storm-force winds of 80 to 120 miles per hour, and up to 100-foot waves coming over higher than the ship. Only lookouts and watch-keepers were allowed on deck.

His action station was in the main shell magazine, four decks below the waterline. When the armour-plated hatches were shut tight there was no escape; if there was a problem, it was like a tomb. During all the convoys the boats were under constant attacks by German bombers, fighters and submarines. Sid was then drafted to HMS Maidstone, in Perth, Australia, a depot ship for the S-type submarines of the Fourth Flotilla, a massive vessel. When they got aboard she was already loaded with stores, ammunition and torpedoes. Berthed in front of them was a Panamanian vessel. Although by then the Japanese had surrendered, their garrison in Hong Kong had no intention of doing so. On 27th August 1945 his ship sailed from Subic Bay in the Philippines to Hong Kong. They anchored just off the mouth of the Victoria River at dawn on the 30th August 1945 to go in and retake Hong Kong. When the island was secured about 500 POWs were taken on board. “What a dreadful sight! We all thought we had it tough not putting a foot ashore for 5 months, but these guys, poor devils, had been prisoners of the Japanese since 1941.”

After hostile actions ended, in his final months in the Navy, Sid was a tour guide on HMS Victory in Portsmouth Docks. After demob he returned home to his old job at RG Whittaker’s. In the 1950s he worked for Cooper Racing Cars in Surbiton and at Tiffin Engineering, then had a job at Hawker Siddeley, and in his retirement took a part-time job at Marks & Spencer in Kingston.

Sid met Jean, his future wife, during the war whilst on leave. They corresponded and, finally, in April 1948 they were married in Teddington, and lived happily for 68 years until Jean’s death in Feb 2016. They had a son, Stephen, who married Irene and they had two children, Joanne and Christopher. Sid and Jean were both extremely proud of their family.

Sid was very much involved with the North Russian Convoy Club, and, with Jean, had many trips to Jersey and weekend meet-ups on Hayling Island. He attended the Imperial War Museum for the Victory Day celebrations and the Royal British Legion Remembrance Day parades, always marching the whole route; his final one was in 2018 at the age of 94. Sid kept himself busy by corresponding with old shipmates around the world, bought the Navy News, often wrote in and had a few letters printed, and filled several photo-albums with his lifetime memories.

For his wartime service, Sid was awarded the 1939-1945 Star (the highest British military honour for the RAF in WWII), the Arctic Star, the  Pacific Star, the Atlantic Star,  and the War Medal 1939-45.  To acknowledge the bravery of the Royal Navy crew serving during the Second World war Russia presented a few commemorative awards to mark some VE day anniversaries. In 2014 Sid received the Medal of Ushakov in the Russian Federation Embassy in London.

After Jean’s death he continued to live in their flat until 2022 when he moved into Linwood Care Home in Thames Ditton. He settled in and enjoyed his surroundings in his own way. His only requests were to have his daily paper, a banana and plenty of Word Search books. Sid passed away peacefully on the 12th July at the care home.

Sid Tiffin featured in our VE-75 presentation in May 2020 (p. 10) and in the brochure Remembering the Second World War (pub. November 2020, p. 16).

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Edwin Philip (Ted) Cross (1925 – 2023) Memorial page

It is with great sadness that we learn of the departure of Edwin (Ted) Cross. Another Second World War and Russian Arctic convoy veteran “crossed the bar”.

Ted Cross was born at Erith in Kent on 11th July 1925, the older of two with his sister Sally. He left school at the age of 14 and had several jobs before volunteering for the Royal Navy six months before his 18th birthday to avoid being conscripted into the Army.

After his ten-week basic training course at HMS Collingwood at Fareham in Hampshire Ted decided to be an RDF Operator (radar) – and trained at HMS Valkyrie on the Isle of Man. A new technology called RDF, or Radar, could track submarines when surfaced while ASDIC, or Sonar, tracked them when submerged so there would be “no hiding place” for German U-boats. After completion of the course, Ted joined HMS Westcott at the start of her final commission, in June 1943. HMS Westcott was at Londonderry after her conversion to a Long Range Escort (LRE), then, in September, joined the 4th Escort Group at Liverpool escorting Atlantic Convoys but soon she was transferred to the 8th Escort Group based at Greenock on the River Clyde escorting Arctic Convoys to Northern Russia. In 1943, aged barely 18, Ted embarked on the first of his seven Arctic convoys, escorting ships ferrying weapons, food and supplies to Russia during the Second World War.

There were six RDF Operators on HMS Westcott: two on duty at a time for each of Red, Blue and Green watches. It was impossible to maintain one’s concentration to the flickering screen for an entire four-hour watch, thus two men were required. At the end of a watch operators had four hours off before going on watch again. Ted was also RNR officer’s servant to First Lt Ernest Quarrie, tidying his cabin and bringing him tea when in harbour. Ted spent his time off-duty sleeping and eating on his mess deck three feet beneath sea level which could be reached via a hatch and a vertical ladder.

There was no official British medal for veterans of those convoys until the Arctic Star was announced in mid December 2012. The institution of the medal, nearly seven decades after the end of the Second World War, was the result of a 16-year-long campaign by Commander Eddie Grenfell, Lieutenant Commander Dick Dykes and Merchant Navy veteran Jock Dempster, who stressed that service in the convoys north of the Arctic Circle was entirely different from those in the Atlantic, for which the Atlantic Star had been awarded, with different aims and different conditions. From 1941 to 1945 1,400 merchant vessels sailed with naval escorts from Britain, Iceland and North America to the Soviet ports of Archangel and Murmansk. 85 merchant vessels, 16 Royal Navy warships and more than 3,000 sailors were lost.

Ted Cross, 87 at the time, felt honoured to visit Number 10 Downing Street and be rewarded after a 70-year wait since he first went to sea on the convoys. “It was my first time at Downing Street and the last time I think. We are getting the medal at long last but it’s unfortunate for those who aren’t around any more.”

Ted said about his service as a radar operator on HMS Westcott from June 1943 to May 1945, making seven return trips to the USSR across the freezing Arctic Ocean: “It has just gone on and on and on. The cold was bitter and the ship was covered in ice at times. That had to be got rid of because too much ice could capsize a ship with the weight. We were in the Navy, we were on a ship and there’s nothing else we could do. I don’t remember anybody being scared. Maybe they were, maybe I was, but that was what you had to do. You couldn’t say ‘I’m not going’. That was life.”.
He has often thought about the risk he and his fellow seamen ran after some material dragged behind the ship to distract U-boats was blown up by a torpedo on one occasion.

At the ceremony on June 16, 2013, Prime Minister David Cameron praised the convoys as “essential in the war effort to defeat fascism and Nazism.” He was joined by the President of the Russian Federation who awarded Mr Cross and his fellow seamen the Medal of Ushakov a Russian Navy award, for their efforts, adding, “We remember you and we believe you are heroes”. The British government had previously blocked Arctic convoy veterans from accepting the Ushakov medal.

On the 11th July this year Ted marked his 98th birthday. He passed away peacefully at home on the 28th July. At this sad time, our thoughts are with Linda and Jane, Ted’s daughters, and their families.

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Bus tours and excursions for the whole family by Karina Tour Travel Club

Karina Tour Travel Club specialises in organising bus tours and excursions for the whole family, including five free trips for children who have received a code from the NAF (Holiday Allowance Fund).

With summer approaching and the long-awaited children’s holidays, parents are now wondering how to spend their time wisely:

  • Go to the seaside and bask in the sun.
  • Explore interesting places in England.

During the summer vacation period, several exciting trips are planned:

25/7/2023 – Tuesday: Hampton Court. 

03/8/2023 – Thursday: Warwick Castle. 

09/8/2023 – Wednesday: Knebworth House. 

15/8/2023 – Tuesday: Headingham Castle Knight School.

 23/8/2023 – Wednesday: Woburn Safari Park.

 

8/07/2023 – Tewkesbury Medieval Festival, held annually since 1983 to commemorate the historic Battle of the Red and White Roses.

23/7/2023 – Rye. 

28/7/2023 – Cromer. 

30/7/2023 – Oxford. 

04/8/2023 – York (Jorvik). 

12/8/2023 – Windsor/Legoland. 

13/8/2023 – Greenwich. 

18/8/2023 – Southend. 

19/8/2023 – Dover Castle. 

01/9/2023 – Seven Sisters.

To book your trip and to find more information, please visit our Telegram channel.

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Frederick (Vic) Bashford (1920 – 2023) Memorial Page

It is with great sadness that we learnt of the departure of another dear member of our community – a Second World War veteran, Frederick Vic Bashford of Ramsey, Cambridgeshire. We first met in 2016 when, together with other Arctic Convoy veterans, Vic was visiting IWM Duxford, and shared memories of his war experiences. Mr Bashford was a member of the Royal Air Force Association (RAFA).

Victor featured in our VE-75 presentation in May 2020 (p. 6) and in the brochure Remembering the Second World War in November 2020 (p. 8).

Frederick (Vic) Bashford was born in Portsmouth on 28 December 1920 into a family of a Naval officer, Frederick Victor Bashford (1897-1977). He was the eldest of three children.
Vic volunteered for service with the Royal Air Force in December 1938, trained as an electrical fitter and was deployed to France in December 1939. He was based at RAF Kenley at the time of the Battle of Britain. Vic was involved in operation Force Benedict, a secret mission to protect the northern Russian port of Murmansk, which was a crucial lifeline to the Soviets.

The first 39 aircraft, of the nearly 3,000 Hurricanes supplied, were transported in August 1941 by the Aircraft Carrier HMS Argos and the RMS Llanstephan Castle in the first Arctic Convoy between the UK and Russia. This was known as Operation Dervish.

Vic was posted to the Middle East from late 1942 – to Egypt, Palestine, Iraq and Greece – until he was demobilised in January 1946.

Vic shared his thoughts: “We left Russia at the end of November 1941, and my trip home was aboard HMS Kenya, with a captain who enjoyed giving the Germans a bloody nose… instead of a straight passage as escort to the returning convoy (QP3), we spent some exhilarating moments bombarding the German coastal installations at Vardo… Never a dull moment! That’s why I joined the RAF – for a quiet life!… that convoy experience is the part of my life that is truly unforgettable.”

For his service, Vic was awarded the 1939-1945 Star (the highest British Military honour for the RAF in WWII), the Arctic Star and the Africa Star, the War Medal 1939-45, the Defence Medal and, later, also the Medal of Ushakov, the highest Russian Naval award. After the end of the Cold War, Vic visited Russia on a couple of occasions. He returned to Russia in 2016 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Operation Dervish convoy and was overwhelmed by the reception given by the Russian people.

Vic, who celebrated his 102nd birthday last December, passed away peacefully at home on 18 April 2023. He was a knowledgeable engineer and a man of great wit with an excellent sense of humour. He also loved sports: as a young man he played cricket and, later in life, he took up golf. He is survived by his three children, two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him. Our thoughts are with Vic’s children, Cylla, Andrea and Anthony, and their families.

You can read Vic Bashford’s memories of No. 615 Squadron (recorded in 2020) and watch his interviewDealings with Russians” on Memorial Marathon. World War II Veterans Stories.

 

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Ernest (Baden) Hall (1925 – 2023) Memorial Page

It is with great sadness that we heard of the departure of a dear member of our community – Baden Hall, a Second World War veteran, who visited us in Cambridge several times over the past decade.

Baden took part in the “Evening of History and Memories” at Churchill college in 2015, where he shared memories of his wartime experiences together with other Arctic Convoy veterans. He met with a group of veterans from Russia during their visit to Cambridge in May of 2016, and was one of four veterans interviewed by local students in 2017 as a part of The Arctic Convoy’s documentary filming project. We also had the pleasure of Baden and Eunice Hall’s company at the CamRuSS 20th anniversary concert The Splendour of Russian Music in Cambridge in October 2019. Baden also featured in our VE-75 presentation in May 2020 (page 5) and in the brochure Remembering the Second World War in November 2020 (page 7) 

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Baden was born on 1st June, 1925 in Deanshanger, Northamptonshire, the eldest of four children. He attended the local school until he was 14, found a job as a gardener in the next village, and, at the age of 15, took up an apprenticeship at Wolverton Carriage Works working on a variety of trains including the Royal Train.
He was called up when he was 18. He famously said to the recruiting officer at the desk “I don’t want to join the Army, I want to join the Navy” to which came the very blunt reply “Get in there!”. So Baden was enlisted in the Royal Navy and received his basic training in Phywelli, Wales. His first posting was at Portsmouth Barracks, which served as a hoofing post, until a permanent place was found. He was there for only six weeks and was then sent to a seamanship training course on HMS Revenge in Faslane, Scotland. After completing it, he was sent to Southampton to join HMS Zodiac, a Z-class Royal Naval destroyer which took part in the Russian Arctic convoys during WW2. This ship became his home for the next 3 ½ years. They sailed either from Loch Ewe or Scapa Flow out into the North Sea, to make their way to Murmansk, Arkhangelsk (Archangel), and Polyarny in the north of Russia. The purpose of these convoys was to transport goods in merchant ships to Russia which were protected from enemy attacks by Royal Navy boats during the perilous journey. Each convoy took 10 days, weather permitting, and then spent 10 days in Russia before making the homeward voyage, bringing the now empty merchant ships back home. Baden spent VE-Day in Denmark and received many awards for his service.

Baden left the Navy in November 1946, and returned to complete his apprenticeship at the Wolverton Carriage Works. Not long after this, he met a young girl called Eunice at a dance one evening and, after 10 happy years of courtship, they got married at Holy Trinity Church in Bedford on 5th April 1958. Baden and Eunice celebrated their Diamond wedding anniversary in 2018.

After several years working at the Carriage Works, Baden took up employment at Vauxhall Motors in Luton, where he remained until his retirement at the age of 55. He returned to his favourite pastime, gardening and doing odd jobs, usually for ladies who lived on their own, and made many good friends over this time.

In recent years, Baden joined the Kennington Russian Arctic Convoy Club and, with his wife Eunice, went to Russia on many occasions (at least four!), visiting St Petersburg, Murmansk and Archangel. Baden was awarded the Medal of Ushakov along with other Arctic Convoy veterans. He loved making annual trips to London on Remembrance Sunday and joining in with thousands of other veterans in the march past the Cenotaph. Baden also enjoyed attending the Royal British Legion meetings. His lifetime’s hobby was music, so he spent many happy hours in the Corn Exchange at concerts. He was a man of great wit and artistic talent, and his cross-stitching embroidery pictures won awards. He liked to laugh, have a joke and enjoy life.

Baden, who celebrated his 97th birthday last June and was looking forward to celebrating his 65th wedding anniversary with Eunice in April this year, passed away in Bedford hospital on Tuesday, 21 March. His funeral took place on 12 April and it was attended by family, friends and members of the local chapter of the Royal British Legion, Clapham, Bedford chapter.

He had a long and wonderfully fulfilling life, and he will be missed immensely by his family, but his spirit will live on in the wonderful memories that they hold dear. He is survived by his wife Eunice, daughter Alison, son-in-law Chris, granddaughters Hannah and Emily. Our thoughts are with Eunice, his widow, and the family.

Dear Baden, rest in peace now that you have crossed the bar.

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