Three Crawley women have thanked the town’s MP for his part in securing medals for members of their family who fought in World War Two.
Bob Hinwood, Harry Ward and Charles Scarfe braved the bitter cold and enemy fire when they were part of the four-year Arctic Convoy campaign to deliver aid to Russia.
The campaign – described by Prime Minister Winston Churchill as “the worst journey in the world” – cost the lives of 3,000 sailors and merchant seamen and more than 100 ships were lost.
Until recently, the men involved received no official recognition for their service, instead being lumped in with the recipients of the Atlantic Star – an entirely separate campaign.
On Wednesday (May 21), Henry Smith MP met with Charles’ wife Barbara, of Furnace Green, Harry’s sister Doreen Simson, of Furnace Green, and Bob’s daughter Anne Bouet, of Three Bridges.
The women thanked Henry for his help in ensuring they received the medals and shared the tales brought back from war by the men, all of whom have since died.
Anne described how the older men would take the young sailors – including her father – under their wing.
One man, who became a mentor to Bob, was bringing two cups of cocoa to Bob’s duty station, when a bullet went straight through both cups and left him holding just the handles.
Ann said: “For him, the closeness he came to losing that father figure was his first brush with mortality.”
Doreen described how Harry’s diary changed from being all about girls to detailing his experiences in the bitter Arctic.
She said: “I used to ask him if he had been frightened and he said, ‘course I was, I was terrified’.”
Regarding the families’ fight to receive the medals, Barbara said she approached Henry after receiving no help though official channels.
Blinking back tears, she added: “I heard nothing and that’s why I wrote to Henry. He was wonderful and I’m very proud of these.”
She intends to have the medal and star mounted and will pass it on to her grandson, Daniel, on the understanding that he will pass it on to his son, Leo.
Following the meeting, Henry said: “Tonight was to bring together those Crawley relatives of those recipients of the Arctic Star, to hear their stories so that we can ensure we pass on to the next generation the cost of the freedom that we enjoy so we recognise the sacrifice our fathers and grandfathers made during the Second World War.”