A Royal Navy veteran had many a long night on wartime convoy duty but they paled in comparison to his half-century wait for a medal.
John Sneddon (87) was an able seaman on board destroyer HMS Swift from 1943 to 1944 in the Arctic convoys of World War Two, helping ensure vital supplies reached the Soviet Union. The convoys were almost a sitting target for German U-boats and 100 merchant ships were sunk over a three-year period.
After surviving those dangers, HMS Swift herself fell victim to a mine off the coast of Normandy on June 24, 1944, while supporting the D-Day landings, plunging John and his shipmates into the sea.
Ironically John ended his wartime naval career serving aboard a minesweeper, clearing mines from Malta to China.
Now, seven decades later, the UK Government has commissioned a medal, the Arctic Star and announced veterans like John would now be able to wear the Ushakov medal they received from Russia just after the turn of the century.
John, who now stays in sheltered housing in Thornhill Court, Fakirk, said: “I got a medal from Russia 10 years ago and now I finally have one from the UK Government. It’s taken them a long time.”
Sadly John’s wife of 50 years, Jessie, died in 2006 and never saw him receive his medal, but he says he will be showing it off to daughter Louise Paterson, and his five grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
John, who has the Freedom of Falkirk, has rubbed shoulders with royalty and world leaders, meeting Prince Charles and shaking hands with President Barack Obama at a ceremony in Normandy in 2009.