Tonbridge veteran Roy Archer to get medal 69 years after the Arctic convoys
Former Royal Navy sailor Roy Archer, 87, from
by Alan Smith
Sixty-nine years after taking part in a Second World War Arctic
convoy to Russia, former seaman Roy Archer is to receive a
The convoys, taking vital supplies to the Russians, were among
the most hazardous missions of the war, with servicemen facing two
deadly enemies: the Germans and the weather.
Now the government has finally announced those seamen who took
part are to receive a new Arctic service medal.
Mr Archer, who is now 87, said: "It's been a long time
In 1944, he was a fresh-faced 19-year-old (pictured right),
newly called up to the Royal Navy, when he left the family home in
Bramble Close, Barming, to sail to Murmansk aboard the destroyer
He said: "The weather was atrocious. The waves were 80ft high
and were constantly breaking over the ship. Everywhere was swamped.
We were wet all the time."
As they got further north, temperatures plummeted, and Mr Archer
recalled being on watch and having to break off the tears which had
frozen as ice to his face.
On the return journey, the convoy was attacked by dozens of
torpedo bombers and submarines.
Mr Archer, a radar operator, was in the plotting cabin when it
was hit by a German plane. The explosion left him partially deaf
Mr Archer also watched the corvette HMS Bluebell disappear. He
said: "One moment it was there. Then there was a massive explosion
and nothing, not even any wreckage."
His own ship had taken in so much water it was sinking.
Mr Archer said: "They couldn't take us off because the weather
was too bad and all the lifeboats had been smashed by the
"We had to carry on, but we all thought we'd had it."
The Whitehall managed to limp into the Faroe Islands, and Mr
Archer was saved to see further service on board HMS Bandit and HMS
Mr Archer, who now lives in Royal Avenue, Tonbridge, with his
wife June, said on receiving the medal now: "It was all a very long
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