Norfolk

Arctic Star for Norfolk World War II survivor

Roy Francis receives Arctic Star
Image caption Roy Francis survived the Arctic convoy missions of World War II

A 91-year-old World War II veteran whose Arctic convoy ship was struck by a torpedo has received a medal to mark his bravery.

Lt Cdr Roy Francis, of Forncett St Mary, Norfolk, was just 19 when HMS Edinburgh was hit on a return trip from Russia in 1942.

Fifty eight people were killed in the attack, with 3,000 men dying in total during the Arctic convoy missions.

Mr Francis received an Arctic Star at a ceremony in Wells on Saturday.

He said: "This is a huge honour for me. Although the events this medal commemorates happened 70 years ago, they feel like only yesterday.

'Belated recognition'

"The courage, selflessness and endurance of my comrades who didn't make it back inspire me every day still and I would like to accept this medal on their behalf, as much as mine."

The Ministry of Defence began giving out medals to honour the Arctic convoy veterans and those of Bomber Command in the Royal Air Force in March.

The Arctic missions worked to keep supplies flowing through German blockades to Britain's ally - the Soviet Union - in Operation Dervish.

On Mr Francis' mission, the HMS Edinburgh sailed for Murmansk on 4 April 1942 and on the return journey it was hit by a torpedo from an enemy U-boat.

The torpedo blew the stern off the ship and threw Mr Francis across the deck.

Fifty eight officers and men were killed in the attack, including all of the 14-year-old midshipmen who were having tea in their mess.

The Countess of Leicester and High Sheriff of Norfolk - Sarah Leicester - who presented the medal, said: "I am sure that our most famous Norfolk hero - Viscount Nelson of Burnham Thorpe - would approve of this belated recognition of commander Francis, the latest of Norfolk's naval heroes."

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