It’s a family affair at reunion of HMS Indefatigable crew

A proud man with his well deserved Arctic Star Medal Eric Lawton (88) ''(left to right) Paul Lawton (65), Eric Lawton (88), Tyrone Lawton (44), and Lee Lawton (26) with his son Ethan Lee Lawton (9 months) on his knee ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (131027-9290)''''Inset, 2nd from right, Eric as a young sailor, and HMS Indefatigable

A proud man with his well deserved Arctic Star Medal Eric Lawton (88) ''(left to right) Paul Lawton (65), Eric Lawton (88), Tyrone Lawton (44), and Lee Lawton (26) with his son Ethan Lee Lawton (9 months) on his knee ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (131027-9290)''''Inset, 2nd from right, Eric as a young sailor, and HMS Indefatigable

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FIVE generations of the same family attended a reunion dinner for HMS Indefatigable.

The Lawtons were there to support Royal Navy veteran and great-great-grandfather Eric, 88, who just days before had received his long-fought-for Arctic Star medal.

The family travelled from Yorkshire to be by his side at the annual get-together of Indefatigable veterans.

They meet every year at the Royal Maritime Club for a dinner followed by a dedicated service at Portsmouth Cathedral.

Mr Lawton said: ‘I’m proud and sad, because I’m wearing this medal, not just for myself, but for all the poor lads who didn’t make it.

‘Thousands died on the convoy – it was terrible.

‘The sea was enormous. As Churchill said, “It was the worst journey in the world” and you can take it from me, it was.’

Mr Lawton said he enjoys nothing more than meeting up with his friends from Indefatigable.

And this weekend was extra special because he was able to wear his medal.

Daughter Denise Tatham, 62, travelled down to be by her father’s side.

She said: ‘It’s fantastic to finally see him wearing his medal. It was hard work getting it and it’s 68 years too late but we’re very. very proud of him.’

And son Paul Lawton, 65, who flew in from holiday in Alicante, Spain, said: ‘It’s a shame because we come every year and it’s taken so long that a lot of the people who were entitled to it have died.

‘But it’s great to have five generations all here together to support dad.’

The HMS Indefatigable Association has been having an annual get-together since 1979.

Fred Harris, 88, is expecting his medal in the next few weeks.

The Bournemouth resident joined veterans for the first time.

He said: ‘It’s wonderful, especially meeting some of the old people.

‘We had tough times. It was really hard, especially the invasion of Okinawa. It was non-stop action stations. But we had a job to do and we did it.

‘One of the most terrifying moments was the kamikaze attack on April 1, 1945 during the invasion of Okinawa.

‘But it actually only put us out of action for 45 minutes because it basically just bounced off the steel.’

The veterans were full of praise for Commander Eddie Grenfell who led the campaign for Arctic Convoy veterans to be given the Arctic Medal.

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