No. 11 AREA

 Arctic Star Presentation

Friday 16 August, 2013

A heroic veteran who sailed in the arctic convoys during World War II has been honoured with the new Arctic Star medal.

Geoff Mellor, of Waterloo, Huddersfield, was presented with the award given to those who risked their lives in convoys travelling north of the Arctic Circle between 1939 and 1945 at a ceremony on 16th August 2013.

The 87-year-old said he was “over the moon” to have received the medal, which was first awarded retrospectively last year – more than 70 years after the convoys took place.

Speaking at the presentation on Friday at the local Royal Naval Association branch on St Andrews Road, Huddersfield, Mr Mellor said: “I am over the moon about this. It is an award which has long been overdue.”

Dave McDonald, chairman of the Royal Naval Association, Huddersfield Branch, presented the award.

In his speech he said: “Geoff is just one of our heroes who helped to defend and escort the convoys of the Arctic Ocean through to the UK and North Russia. Conditions in the Arctic Circle are extremely cold and hazardous, not least of all when they were under attack from German U-Boats".

Geoff served on board HMS Myngs during the war, a Zambesi-class, or Z-class, Fleet Destroyer launched on 31st May 1943. He joined the ship in February 1945 when she was part of Force l as screen for HM Cruisers Norfolk and Dido with HM Destroyers Zambesi and Savage to provide cover for Force 2 during shipping attacks off Bud and air minelay in Skatestromnen.

Later the same month the ship joined Force 4 as screen for HM Cruiser Dido and HM Escort Carriers Premier and Puncher to provide cover for minesweeping operations by Force 3 NE of Orkneys and an air minelay in Karm Sound with HM Destroyers Zambesi and Cavalier (Operations 'Shred' and 'Groundsheet').

At the end of February HMS Myngs joined the escort for return convoy RA64 with HM Destroyers Cavalier and Zambesi. She detached from RA64 escort on 27th February and re-joined the Home Fleet at the beginning of March.

On 12th March the ship joined Russian Convoy JW65 with HMS Campania, HM Destroyers Onslaught, Opportune, Orwell, Scorpion and Zambesi as ocean escort. Close escort included HM Destroyer Myngs, Sioux (RCN), Norwegian Stord, HM Sloop Lapwing and seven corvettes from Western Approaches Command. (HM Escort Carrier Trumpeter screened by HM Destroyers Savage and Scourge joined JW65 later).

The convoy came under U-Boat attacks on 20th March during which HMS Lapwing and a mercantile were sunk. HMS Myngs detached on arrival at Kola Inlet and sailed three days later on the 23rd as part of the escort for returning convoy RA65 with HMS Trumpeter, HMS Campania and Fleet destroyers of JW63 escort.

HMS Myngs detached from RA65 on 30th March and re-joined the Home Fleet. For the rest of Geoff's time on board, the ship deployed with the Home Fleet Flotilla. The ship remained in commission after VJ Day and was transferred to the 3rd Escort Flotilla at Portland in August 1948. The next year this Flotilla was renamed 2nd Training Flotilla and used for training duties based at Portland.

In September 1954 Myngs was reduced to Reserve status pending conversion into Type 15 anti-submarine Frigate. As this selection was never implemented she was placed on the Sales List and in 1955 sold to Egypt.

Renamed 'El Qaher' the destroyer sailed for Egypt on 28th August 1956. She returned to Cowes for refit between May 1963 and July 1964 and returned to service. She was sunk by enemy air attack on 16th May 1970 during hostilities with Israel.

Read Geoff's story (published in the Huddersfield Examiner on 5th September 2013)

(Images: Huddersfield RNA).

(Click on the thumbnails for a larger image)

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