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Hero of Arctic convoys gets his medal at last
9:30am Wednesday 20th March 2013 in News
EDWARD Cordery stood tall yesterday in memory of his fallen Second World War comrades as the Prime Minister presented his Arctic Star medal.
Mr Cordery was one of the first 40 Second World War veterans to receive the new medal struck by the Government this month.
The former lead seaman and torpedo operator, who served on HMS Belfast, visited Downing Street to be presented with the medal by Witney MP Mr Cameron.
Afterwards Mr Cordery, 89, of Turnpike Road, Cumnor Hill, Oxford, said: “It has been a very good day indeed. I just visited No. 10, had a chat to David Cameron, nothing unusual.
“I saw some of my old shipmates, and merchant seamen we escorted in the Arctic Convoys.
“I have a great deal of respect for them because they were not killed in the explosions but died freezing in the sea.”
Mr Cordery, who was also a leading torpedo operator, was stationed on board HMS Belfast from 1942.
His missions took him to the waters around the Arctic escorting convoys to the Soviet Union.
More than 3,000 seamen died over four years from 1941 on missions to keep open supply lines to Soviet ports, travelling what Winston Churchill dubbed the “worst journey in the world”.
Mr Cordery also served with the Royal Navy Coastal Forces on the Motor Torpedo Boats, in Felixstowe, (MTBs), and after the war joined the crew of mine sweepers in the seas between Scotland and Norway.
He said: “At the end of the war I thought that’s it, I made it, I got through it. Then I joined the mine sweepers in Scotland and Norway and said it would be my luck to get blown up. But I didn’t.”
The medal followed recommendations of a review of military decorations by former diplomat Sir John Holmes.
Presenting the medals at a special ceremony yesterday, Mr Cameron called the veterans a “group of heroes”.
He told them: “There are lots of extraordinary people I have met in this room, but I can't think of a group of people that I am more proud to have in No. 10.
“ I am only sorry that it has taken 70 years to get to here and to say thank you for what you did.”