Hope that Arctic convoy hero will be honoured

THE family and friends of a hero submariner are calling on the Government to honour his wartime service almost six years after his death.

Redmond Mellett saw action in the gruelling Arctic convoys during the Second World War, serving aboard the submarines HMS Una and HMS Otus, as well as the converted American destroyer HMS St Mary.

Mr Mellett, who died in May 2007, had damaged his hearing during submarine training in a deep water tank and, while aboard the St Mary, regularly undertook the treacherous voyage from Reykjavik in Iceland to the ports of Murmansk and Archangel in the Soviet Union in order to keep the west’s then allies resupplied during its life-and-death struggle with Hitler’s Third Reich.

Richard Quinlan, of St Helens Road, Over Hulton, was friends with Mr Mellett for 40 years and, while he was alive, wrote letters on his behalf asking for him to be recognised in the Arctic campaign.

Veterans have been fighting for a dedicated arctic medal for decades and The Bolton News recently reported how Prime Minister David Cameron had announced an Arctic Convoy Star Medal would be created and awarded to veterans this year.

But Mr Quinlan and Mr Mellett’s widow Joyce say the honour should be awarded posthumously to Mr Mellett — who received several medals for his efforts during his lifetime — and was recognised by the French Government for taking part in D-Day aboard the battleship HMS Malaya.

Mr Quinlan, aged 92, did his military service in Egypt with the RAF, but said he had seen TV documentaries about the arctic convoys. He said: “You’d see them using pickaxes to hack away the ice because it was so cold and they had to contend with German wolfpacks (fleets of U-boats) and all that caper.

“It was a dangerous job and Redmond copped for it. He wasn’t the type to brag about what he’d done.”

Widow Joyce Mellett, aged 89, of Gas Street, was married to Mr Mellett for 66 years and the couple had two children, six grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

She said: “He never talked to me about the war but when we read the story in The Bolton News we hoped he’d get the medal — the family would be proud.”

A Downing Street spokesman told The Bolton News it had still not been decided whether the medal would be awarded posthumously or only to surviving veterans. Bolton North East MP David Crausby has long campaigned for an Arctic convoy medal.

He said: “The medal is long overdue and it has taken so long to deliver that many of those who served so bravely on the Arctic convoys will have passed away, so it makes absolute sense to award the medal to all the veterans concerned for the benefit of their families.”

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