A navy veteran who survived one of the most perilous missions of the Second World War has finally been awarded the coveted Artic Star after a 12-year campaign for recognition.
John Podzukites, 91, joined the merchant ship Fort Vercheres at Middlesbrough in March 1944 where he worked in the engine room.
Loaded with war materials, and intended for North Russia on what was once described as the “worst journey in the world” by Winston Churchill, the ship joined the Convoy JW-58 before coming under attack from German torpedo bombers and U-boats.
But despite the dangers faced by the crew the convoy arrived without loss and now, 70-years on and following a determined 12-year campaign, the 91-year-old veteran has received the Arctic Medal for his contribution to the success of the mission.
The campaign, which fought for the recognition of Arctic veterans, was achieved in 2013 and led by Billy McGee, a former merchant seaman from Stockton.
Last month he visited John at Ingleby Care Home in Ingleby Barwick where he now lives to present him with his medal.
The determined campaigner has also ensured that John received recognition from the Russian Government, which has awarded three commemorative medals to the Arctic veterans since 1985.The 91-year-old also survived action in both the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.
Ingleby Care Home Manager Carol Singleton, said: “It was incredibly moving to see John recognised after so many years for what must have been a terrifying experience.
“We are very pleased that Billy continued his campaign for so long, and so proud that John now has a medal that he can treasure.”