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Royal Navy honour Second World War sailor

17 May 2016

The Royal Navy has presented a proud widow in Plymouth with a medal awarded posthumously to her husband for his service during the gruelling Arctic Convoys.

The Arctic Star is a military campaign medal for Royal Navy and Merchant Navy crews instituted in 2012 for service in the Second World War, specifically those who served in ships north of the Arctic Circle.

The award recognises the particular severity of the conditions experienced by those who served in the Arctic protecting convoys taking supplies to Russia by guarding merchant ships against German attack during the extremely cold winter weather.

Olive Eves, 93, was presented with the Star at a ceremony in HM Naval Base Devonport today on behalf of her husband former Lieutenant Commander Harold Eves who served in the base.

Harold would have been very proud to have received this medal.

Olive Eves

Olive, who also celebrated her 93rd birthday today, lived in Plymouth until she moved to Australia and made the trip to the UK to see members of her family.

The award ceremony was a surprise. She said: “I thought I was going to a restaurant for a birthday meal – then, when we arrived at the naval base I guessed it was something to do with the Arctic Star.

“It has been an emotional day.

“Harold would have been very proud to have received this medal.

“But sadly he died in 1996 and I am very moved that the Navy has taken this so seriously and I am wearing the Arctic Star and his other war medals for him.

“He didn’t talk much about the war.’’

She said it was wonderful that the medal has finally been awarded so long after the war, especially to those who are still alive.

Commander Paul Haycock made the presentation in the officer’s mess. He said: “It is my great pleasure to present the Arctic Star.  This was a hellish theatre of war to take part in and Harold survived which was an achievement.’’

Mrs Eves will be joined by their two sons and daughter Harold & wife, Chris (former Royal Navy warrant officer marine engineer) and Sandra Willsher. 

Harold junior’s wife Sally will join him (her father was a Commander of HMS Drake Harry Guy Vere in the 1950s). Both of Chris’s sons are merchant marine engineers.

Harold senior served in the Royal Navy for 25 years and throughout the Second World War.  He served in Devonport-based ship HMS Galatea which was sunk in 1941 leaving 470 sailors dead.

Harold was one of only 100 who survived.   During the Arctic Convoys he served in HMS Kent protecting merchant shipping and included taking on board Russian gold as payment to the UK for convoy supplies.

He left the Navy in 1955 as a lieutenant commander gunnery officer having risen through the ranks. 

One of his last appointments was as officer of the guard at HMS Drake in Devonport Naval Base before leaving the Navy and running a grocery shop in Laira, Plymouth, until retirement.

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