Admiral drops by to honour Arctic veteran

HONOURED Standing from left, John's nephew Vice Admiral Sir Fabian Malbon, Sir Fabian's wife Sue Malbon, carer Sandra Hunt and friend and former navy medic DJ Buckland. Seated, left, Second Sea Lord Admiral David Steel and Lieutenant Commander (Rtd) John Malbon
HONOURED Standing from left, John's nephew Vice Admiral Sir Fabian Malbon, Sir Fabian's wife Sue Malbon, carer Sandra Hunt and friend and former navy medic DJ Buckland. Seated, left, Second Sea Lord Admiral David Steel and Lieutenant Commander (Rtd) John Malbon
The new commanding officer of HMS Collingwood, Captain Rob Vitali. Picture: Keith Woodland/MoD

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THE Second Sea Lord has praised a survivor of the Arctic Convoys for bravery after awarding him the Arctic Star medal.

Lieutenant Commander John Malbon, of Southsea in Portsmouth, joined the Royal Navy Patrol Service in 1939 at the age of 19, and was a sailor in the freezing convoys.

Now he has become the latest veteran to receive the Arctic Star after Second Sea Lord Admiral David Steel presented him with the award at his home.

Adml Steel said: ‘I am embarrassed and humbled because I have never done anything that could rival this achievement.

‘What John and his colleagues did was extraordinary.

‘When I met veterans of the Battle of the Atlantic in Liverpool I asked them what the most important aspect of those convoys was for them, and they all said teamwork.

‘The modern Royal Navy has learned that legacy and this medal represents what the veterans did back then and the resulting state of the Royal Navy today.

‘None of us could be more proud of what John and his colleagues did during those wartime days amid the most terrible danger. It is my pleasure to present this medal.’

The retired lieutenant commander’s first posting was on HMS Evadne, an armed yacht requisitioned by the Royal Navy in 1939, which escorted convoys from the west coast ports to convoy assembly areas.

From there, he qualified as a gunnery officer, joining HMS Agamemnon in 1941, and forming part of a mine-laying squadron.

The ship was one of several responsible for laying anti-submarine mines to deter the threat of German U-boat attacks.

In 1943, he joined HMS Campania as a watchkeeping officer and survived five return journeys to the frozen wastes of Russian supply ports Archangel and Murmansk.

‘It would take about a week to get there and we did five trips in total,’ said Lt Cdr Malbon.

‘I remember it being very chilly and ploughing through ice floes out in the sea as we got closer.

‘There were people on board who had to chip away the ice on the deck.’

As reported in The News, the government announced in December that an Arctic Star medal would be produced for veterans of the convoys.