Farewell salute to ‘worst journey in the world’ Hitchin hero
- Credit: Archant
Tributes have been paid to a Second World War veteran and survivor of ‘the worst journey in the world’ who is due to be buried next week.
Duncan Harris, 92, who passed away on December 27, was part of the vital Arctic Convoy which kept Britain’s allies’ Russia supplied during the darkest days of the Second World War. Wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill dubbed it the ‘worst journey in the world.’
Mr Harris, who was awarded four service medals, was a navigator on the Fairey Swordfish, a torpedo bomber open cockpit biplane nicknamed the ‘Stringbag’. Those flying the planes in sub-zero Arctic conditions risked death from hypothermia in minutes if their aircraft ditched in the freezing ocean.
But these small craft forced deadly German U-boats to remain under the surface, reducing the threat to allied ships in the convoy.
Mr Harris spoke movingly towards the end of his life saying: “It was just a job. Back then we didn’t expect to make 22, let alone 92.”
You may also want to watch:
His daughter Elisabeth Harris said: “Dad’s postwar working life was spent in retail, working for Fine Fare in Welwyn Garden City. My parents lived in Dale Close, Hitchin for 40 years.
“Mum, Mary Harris, was a much-admired English teacher at Hitchin Boys’ School until her retirement.
- 1 Closure order granted after drug-related crime and anti-social behaviour
- 2 Victim kicked repeatedly in Hitchin early hours attack
- 3 Box Wood: 42 acres of ancient woodland sold at auction
- 4 Man sentenced for string of sexual offences in Stevenage
- 5 Log thrown through hairdressers' window in Knebworth
- 6 Multiple cars involved in A1(M) collision
- 7 How well do you know Letchworth? Take our quiz to find out
- 8 Stevenage's annual fireworks display returns on Bonfire Night - November 5
- 9 Oh baby! Family's disbelief after welcoming 'enormous' newborn
- 10 Serial flasher who 'showed no remorse' jailed
“She died in 2004, by which time they had enjoyed a splendid retirement together, travelling to Catalonia, America, Australia and Hong Kong.
“After mum’s death dad was able to remake his life, taking up new friendships in Hitchin. He also did voluntary work for the Lister Hospital, driving patients to appointments, and worked in the Garden House Hospice shop in Hitchin. He joined the Probus club and thoroughly enjoyed their meetings and friendship.”
Tuesday’s funeral is at the Vale Crematorium in Stopsley.