ARCTIC Convoy veteran Commander Eddie Grenfell has suffered a heart attack just after picking up a medal for bravery.
Cdr Grenfell’s daughter said her father stopped breathing for a minute during the health scare on Saturday.
Cdr Grenfell, 92, was taken ill after he attended a ceremony in Whitchurch, north Hampshire, where he received a medal from residents for his bravery during the Second World War. Two nurses who were there rushed to help while an ambulance was called. Then two paramedics who were nearby in Whitchurch heard the 999 call-out.
They arrived minutes later, where they were able to revive Cdr Grenfell, who leads the campaign for an Arctic Medal to recognise the heroism of those who braved icy conditions to deliver supplies to Russia in the Second World War.
Daughter Trudie was with Cdr Grenfell on Saturday where he was presented with a medal by mayor of Whitchurch, councillor Barry Jackman.
Miss Grenfell said: ‘His heart stopped for over a minute, he was gone. I have never seen anything so horrific in my life.
‘It was just a shock to witness something like that.’
The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance was called.
Cdr Grenfell was taken by land ambulance to Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital where he is being cared for in the Coronary Care Unit.
Doctors were last night examining whether Cdr Grenfell has also suffered a stroke.
Miss Grenfell added: ‘My dad is amazing. From what he went through – effectively his heart stopped for over a minute and he’s 92 – he’s chatting away to everyone, he’s interested in everyone’s lives and interested in all the people who are helping him. Knowing my dad, I will be amazed if he doesn’t pull through.’
The Arctic Convoys transported crucial supplies to Russia between 1941 and 1945. During the trips to ports in the Arctic Circle, 3,000 of their comrades died. Cdr Grenfell, from Portsea, survived the bombing of his ship, the Empire Lawrence, in 1942 and spent 10 minutes in the icy Arctic waters before he was rescued.
He has campaigned tirelessly in a bid to get recognition in the form of a medal to honour the 66,000 heroes who served in the gruelling Arctic Convoys.
Lieutenant Commander Dick Dykes, 92, took part in the Arctic Convoys aboard HMS Honeysuckle, and was also honoured with a medal by the people of Whitchurch on Saturday.
He said: ‘We were presented with a very nice medal which was for recognition of the Arctic Heroes, as they called us.
‘Eddie was greatly touched and proud that the town recognised the Arctic Convoys.
‘He is progressing satisfactorily now and he’s being well looked after. I wish him well and I also ask him to take care in every possible way.’
Arctic Convoys comrade Bill Shepperd said: ‘It’s a surprise and a shock. I was only speaking to him a few days ago. I hope he makes a rapid recovery.’