A WAR hero who braved “horrendous” conditions in the Arctic Ocean for 18 months has been honoured posthumously.
Robert Hargreaves sailed to Murmansk aboard HMS Venomous in World War Two to provide help to the Russians against invading Nazis.
Nearly 70 years on, and his family have received an Arctic Star medal, a new honour introduced to mark the efforts of men who served in the Arctic circle.
His brother Chris, aged 76, who has been working to secure the medal for the past two years, said his brother did not talk about his experiences in the Royal Navy as he found it too upsetting.
Robert was awarded several medals during his lifetime but did not live long enough to received the Arctic Star, after dying aged 89 in 2011.
One of nine siblings to be brought up in a two-up, two-down terraced house, Robert ended his life living in Turner Bridge Road, Tonge Fold, a few doors down from brother Chris.
Chris said: “First of all our government said they were not going to give these medals out. There was talk of the Russians giving out some sort of honour but nothing came of that. So we’re delighted to have finally got it.”
Robert’s wife Peggy died about 30 years ago and the couple had no children — but his brother Chris has vowed to pass the Arctic Star and Robert’s other war medals down to his own grandchildren to cherish.
Before working on HMS Venomous, Robert did sonar work on HMS Shikari and was involved in Operation Dynamo rescue operations at Dunkirk in 1941, “pulling bodies out of the water”, according to Chris.
He volunteered for the navy in 1939, aged only 17, while younger brothers Jack and Norman served in the Merchant Navy and Lancashire Fusiliers respectively during the war.
Robert worked for the General Post Office as an engineer after the war, before retiring in 1981.
Chris added: “After he suffered a stroke he was pretty much dependent on Betty and I and I ended up moving in with him and Betty was running up and down the street with food and washing.
“He never spoke much of the war as he found it too upsetting. Just before he died he actually opened up a bit and we learned a great deal.
“But he would not talk of the conditions much. They were just too horrendous.”