SERVING on HMS Morecambe Bay was more than just a job – it was the start of a comradeship that would span decades.
So when veteran Doug Turk opened the newspaper and discovered that a fellow comrade had been too sick to attend a ceremony to accept his Ushakov medal, he vowed to mark the occasion when his friend was better.
Now three months later, a humble Tom Lawrence was presented with his medal at the bi-monthly meeting of the HMS Morecambe Bay Association, at Sarisbury Green Social Club, in Bridge Road, on Tuesday.
A gathering of members that served on the HMS Morecambe Bay, and on other ‘Bays’ such as Bigbury Bay, St Austell Bay, Dundrum Bay, Burghead Bay and Mounts Bay, congratulated the 89-year-old for receiving the honour.
Chairman of the association Doug Turk said: ‘When Tom received the Arctic Star a couple of years ago we held a little event to mark the occasion.
‘I knew Tom had got another medal but I could see he was not in the photograph in The News so I thought that we had better do something about that.’
Mr Lawrence, from Fareham, was meant to collect the medal from Captain Oleg Kornienko, the naval attaché of the Russian Federation, at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth but as he was unwell, his 28-year-old grandson, also called Tom Lawrence, from Southampton, went in his place.
Mr Lawrence said he was grateful to his grandson and his daughter-in-law Pat for attending, but he felt the medals, which were awarded for the part they played transporting vital supplies to Russia during the Second World War, should have been awarded earlier.
He said: ‘I feel pretty strongly that there was only 38 of us there [at the ceremony], they called their names out and there was one man there who was 95 years old. Everyone was at least 89.’
Mr Lawrence joined the Royal Navy in July 1941 as a boy seaman aged 16. He served on board HMS Howe until 1944, and later on anti-aircraft frigate Morecambe Bay in the Korean War.
He attends the meeting of the HMS Morecambe Bay Association, which also accepts other ‘Bays’ due to declining numbers.
Chairman Mr Turk encouraged others to get in touch.
Mr Turk said: ‘It is important to remember to keep the name alive. The crew was such a tight crew and our comradeship was so great.’
For more details call Mr Turk on 01252 378629 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.