Letchworth Second World War veteran receives medal from Russians for his work protecting supply convoys

Cliff Potter pictured with this Arctic Medal

Cliff Potter pictured with this Arctic Medal - Credit: Archant

A Second World War veteran says he is incredibly grateful after receiving a medal from the Russian Embassy in recognition of his efforts during the conflict.

Cliff Potter, of Kingfisher Court in Letchworth, received a Ushakov Medal at the Russian Embassy in London on Thursday in recognition of his work protecting convoys that supplied the Soviet Union.

The 89-year-old served as a seaman in the Royal Navy from 1943-45 on the HMS Virango destroyer and, as well as protecting convoys, was present at the Battle of North Cape on Boxing Day 1943 when the German battleship Scharnhorst was sunk.

He said: “It was an amazing honour to receive this medal and I am incredibly grateful to the Russians for giving it to me. It was a hard life aboard those ships but I enjoyed my time that I served in the navy.

“It was freezing cold most of the time and it took us about a week to get across from Iceland to Russia. The seas were heavy and the waves were so strong that they used to bend the solid metal struts that held the decks in place.

“We had to wear lots of warm clothing all the time because of the temperature and I remember you often couldn’t take your helmet off because the cold stuck it to your head.”

After the war Mr Potter, who has lived in Letchworth his entire life and went to Pixmore Junior School, returned to his job as an apprentice engineer at ICL – now owned by Fujitsu – where he remained for 46 years before retiring in 1992.