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Home   Medway   News   Article

The Legasee Educational Trust interviewing veterans for their war stories as part of the Keep Britain Afloat project, exhibiting at Chatham Dockyard

16 March 2014
by Chris Hunter

The Legasee Educational Trust aims to film interviews with 50 veterans for the Keep Britain Afloat project, which will culminate in a permanent exhibition at Chatham’s Historic Dockyard in 2015, 70 years after the end of the Second World War.

HMS Milne on arctic convoy.Copyright John Lawrence

HMS Milne on arctic convoy. Copyright: John Lawrence

Their contribution to the war effort was acknowledged in 2012 when the government announced that those who served on the Arctic convoys – taking food and supplies to Russia through the frozen north on what Churchill called “the worst journey in the world” – would be awarded a new medal, the Arctic Star.

But with many who served on the convoys now aged in their 80s or older, their stories and memories could disappear without ever being recorded, and the trust is calling for veterans to come forward to make the project a success.

The Arctic Star Medal recognises service between 1941 and 1945 delivering vital aid to the Soviet Union, running the gauntlet of enemy submarine, air and surface ship attacks

The Arctic Star Medal: recognises service between 1941 and 1945 delivering vital aid to the Soviet Union, running the gauntlet of enemy submarine, air and surface ship attacks

A £62,900 grant was received from the Lottery Fund last year and organisers are hoping to push the project forward. The filming and interviewing will involve volunteers and students,

Alex Patterson, collections and galleries manager for Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, said the award and the project would “help capture and tell the stories of those men who were part of a vital front of the Second World War and which are in danger of being lost forever.”

The dockyard is also home to HMS Cavalier, the last surviving Second World War destroyer that served on the Arctic convoys, now the National Destroyer Memorial – a powerful reminder of the convoys’ historical significance.

HMS Cavalier and the bronze monument at Chatham's Historic Dockyard by it forms the National Destroyer memorial.Copyright Gail James

HMS Cavalier and the bronze monument at Chatham's Historic Dockyard by it forms the National Destroyer memorial. Copyright: Gail James

Stuart Mcleod, head of Heritage Lottery Fund South East, said: “The young people involved in this project will not only help capture the veterans’ memories and experiences for the future but they’ll also have a chance to learn new skills.”

If you served as a Chatham rating in any of the convoys of the Second World War, or know someone who did, please call Martin on 0207 0339773 or email martin@legasee.org.uk

 

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