Veteran receives war medal for service in Arctic

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A WAR veteran has finally received his Arctic Star medal for service covering the Denmark Strait during the second world war.

Ron Curtis, 89, of Lesser Foxholes, Shoreham, the vice-president of Shoreham lifeboat, received his medal three weeks ago for his service in Arctic waters.

Mr Curtis said: “I was navigator and tactician of a frigate in Captain “Johny” Walker’s escort group. He was the ace U-boat killer. After he died of overstrain, I became navigator of the 2nd division of the group, which frequently worked as a separate unit. As well as UK waters and Atlantic duties we spent time in Arctic waters covering the Denmark Strait, between Iceland and Greenland, and also provided tactical cover to some Russian convoys which were much easier in the latter days of the war, but we did not carry on to Murmansk.”

Like many veterans serving in the war in the Arctic convoys, Mr Curtis’ achievements have only recently been recognised and awarded. These awards have taken 70 years to arrive.

A campaign by one of the veterans last year suceeded in getting the convoys officially acknowledged by the Government.

Mr Curtis added: “I was appointed MBE (milty) at the age of 21 and spent a commission on the West Indies Station before demobilisation. I qualified as a chartered civil engineer and eventually specialised in port works serving both in UK and overseas.”

Both during and after the war, Mr Curtis had a varied career. After his time at sea he became a land surveyor, building housing estates in Brighton and then re-building bridges in places such as Rye and The Drive in Hove. He has also worked in Singapore and London docks.

Mr Curtis then became a port engineer at Shoreham and as a keen yachtsman kept his vessels there, eventually becoming involved with the Shoreham lifeboat.

He served 25 years as operations manager and said that it was very interesting with interesting people.