Blind Second World War veteran honoured in special ceremony

Bilnd World War II veteran, Gerard Grant, has finally been awarded a medal recognising his bravery over 70 years ago.  He is pictured with Nick Caplin, chief exec of Blind Veterans UK.
Bilnd World War II veteran, Gerard Grant, has finally been awarded a medal recognising his bravery over 70 years ago. He is pictured with Nick Caplin, chief exec of Blind Veterans UK.

A Second World War veteran has finally been recognised for his bravery 70 years after serving in the navy.

Gerard Grant, 91, of St Annes, was presented with the Ushakov Medal, awarded to sailors who have displayed courage in the course of defending Russia or its interests, because of his role in what has become known as the “Arctic Convoys” of the Second World War.

The Arctic Convoy was made up of vessels which travelled from Britain to Russia to keep the Soviet Union supplied with vital goods and weapons during the Second World War.

Despite the treacherous conditions Gerry faced and the threat of attack from German U-Boats, he says he was never scared.

Gerry said: “I was never scared, you had to have a strong mindset to keep going.

“I had served in Malta two years before where there was no food and air raids every day, once you have no food whatsoever, that’s scary.

“The hardest part of the convoys was the lack of sleep as you would sit down on a seat no bigger than a foot wide in the freezing cold.”

Gerry was delighted for friends and family to celebrate his medal but he was quick to remember those who had lost their lives.

He said: “I have waited a very long time for this medal but when I woke up today, I wasn’t particularly excited.

“I was always think about all the people who did not make it to this stage to be commemorated.”

His daughter, Frieda Arrowsmith was proud to be there to see her father receive the medal.

She said: “The family are overwhelmed by everyone coming today, we thought it would be a small gathering with a few friends and family.

“I am proud of my father every day, especially to see how he has coped with the loss of his eyesight but today is extra special.”

After being unable to make last year’s ceremony in London, Gerard asked Blind Veterans UK to present the medal after the help they have given him during the past 15 years.

Gerry has received support from Blind Veterans UK since 2001 after losing his sight overnight due to what is known as an “eye stroke”.

Gerry said: “Losing my eyesight was traumatic. I went to bed perfectly fine after a nice drive in my car and woke up without being able to see anything at all.”

Chief executive of Blind Veterans UK, Major General (Rtd) Nick Caplin CB, said: “It is only right that the brave Arctic Convoy veterans like Gerry should be recognised for the incredible sacrifice they made in World War Two.

“It is a great honour for Blind Veterans UK and myself personally to play a part in Gerry’s special day.

“We realise there will be lots more people in the country who have suffered from serving their country and Blind Veterans UK is here to help them.”