Arctic Star for Navy veteran

Robert Morton with his medals including the Arctic Star.  (130726M2)
Robert Morton with his medals including the Arctic Star. (130726M2)

A Navy veteran has added to his tally of medals after he was awarded an Arctic Star for his military service during the Second World War.

Robert Morton, 88, of Kirkby Drive, joined the Navy as a signal boy at the age of 15 in 1940 and his first trip was aboard HMS Duke of York taking then Prime Minister Winston Churchill to the United States.

In the Arctic, he took part in the Battle of the Barents Sea, north of Norway, in December 1942 when his ship HMS Jamaica came under attack by the Germans while escorting the Russian convoy JW 51B to the USSR.

“We intercepted two battleships, the Admiral Hipper and the Lützow, before they could get at the convoy we were escorting,” said Mr Morton, who left the Navy aged 30 as a Master at Arms (the Naval police).

“We did much damage to the Hipper.”

A year later, in December 1943, Mr Morton was serving on the HMS Jamaica, which was in the company of the HMS Duke of York, when it took part in the Battle of the North Cape when convoys were atttacked by German battlecruiser Scharnhorst.

“We – the HMS Jamaica – were told by the Admiral ‘finish off the Scharnhorst’. The signal was ‘Jamaica – finish her off with torpedoes!’”, said Mr Morton, who as a signal boy at the beck and call of the Chief Yeoman was on the bridge at the time and could see events unfolding.

“It was clear the Scharnhorst was finished. After the final hits she keeled over rapidly.

“After the action we picked up any people we could in the water – there were hundreds of them dying in the water and just 36 of the Germans were picked up by the destroyers.”

In addition to his services in the Arctic, Mr Morton also saw action in the landings of the North African Campaign. After leaving the Jamaica in early 1944, he was put on combined operations and took part in the Normandy Landings and was among 30 members of the Armed Forces to be the first to reach Antwerp.

With the receipt of his Arctic Star, adding to his five other medals recognising his service to the country,Mr Morton said: “I’d like to pay tribute to Commander Eddie Grenfell who for 20 years sought recognition of our services in the Arctic.”

He added: “I’d like to dedicate the Arctic Star to those who died or were killed at sea – there are no flowers on their graves – and of course to the Russian people themselves.