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Arctic convoy veteran gets his medal 60 years after a daring mission

By Lucy Christie

A veteran of the Second World War Arctic convoys has been honoured for his bravery more than 60 years after a daring mission.

Tom Burke (92) was 24 when he served with merchant tanker San Venancio on its hazardous journey to deliver supplies to the Soviet Union in 1945.

Mr Burke, who lives in a nursing home in Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute, has been awarded the Arctic Star medal in recognition of the part he played in assisting Britain's ally.

Leaving the Clyde on March 11, 1945, he and his shipmates ran the deadly gauntlet of German U-boats, warships and aircraft to reach their destination at the Kola inlet near Murmansk 10 days later.

Mr Burke, originally from Cardonald, Glasgow, said: "We had almost reached our destination when the convoy came under attack and all hell broke loose.

"A U-boat came close alongside our ship, using us as cover from the Royal Navy ships in our escort.

"Eventually a British naval destroyer dropped a depth charge almost on top of it."

Conditions on the Arctic Convoys were some of the bleakest faced by Allied sailors. The crews braved extreme cold, gales and pack ice. The first convoy left in September 1941 and the last mission ended in May 1945.

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