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Navy hero of Arctic convoys dies at age of 99 in Antrim

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Commander Philip Ball OBE, who lived in Templepatrick, died peacefully in Antrim Area Hospital on Sunday

Commander Philip Ball OBE, who lived in Templepatrick, died peacefully in Antrim Area Hospital on Sunday

Commander Philip Ball OBE, who lived in Templepatrick, died peacefully in Antrim Area Hospital on Sunday

A decorated Royal Navy officer who took part in the danegerous Arctic convoys of the Second World War has passed away.

Commander Philip Ball OBE, who lived in Templepatrick, died peacefully in Antrim Area Hospital on Sunday.

He served on the carrier HMS Victorious, which provided air cover for the convoys supplying essential material to the Soviet Union.

The vessel came under Nazi attack, which it successfully repelled.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill said the maritime missions in aid of Soviet allies were the most dangerous of the war.

Sailors faced icy storms, Luftwaffe bombers and deadly U-boats to ferry the supplies.

In 2014 Mr Ball received not only the Arctic Star, but also the Ushakov Medal from the Russians, in recognition of his service on the convoys.

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A reception was later held by the Royal Naval Reserve in HMS Hibernia, located within Thiepval Barracks in Lisburn, to honour surviving local men who served on the convoys.

Last year Mr Ball, who was 98 at the time, was one of a number surviving veterans presented with a specially-commissioned silver poppy of remembrance in honour of his service against fascism and Nazism by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.

In 2016 he recalled his wartime experience in an interview with the Belfast Telegraph.

He explained the one thing that had stayed with him was the unforgiving conditions.

"We saw a couple of ships going down," he said.

"And what also really sticks in my head is the bitter cold, the massive waves and the sea freezing over."

Speaking at the ceremony, he also reflected on his lost comrades.

"It was a lovely occasion, and your mind does flip back to those friends who you made over the years who have passed away or who didn't make it back," he explained.

After the war Mr Ball stayed in the Royal Navy and finished his 35-year service with the rank of commander.

A funeral notice described him as the "loving husband of Jackie and dear father of Kim".

It added that he will be "lovingly remembered and sadly missed by his wife and daughter".

A service of thanksgiving for Philip's life will take place at a later date, and donations, if desired, can be made to Air Ambulance NI.


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