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Top medal for Arctic convoy fighter pilot.

Byline: Mail Reporter

A FIGHTER pilot who helped Russia fight the Nazis in a top secret mission during the Second World War will finally be awarded an Arctic convoy medal - 72 years later.

Eric Carter, aged 93, from Chaddesley Corbett, Worcs, is thought to be the last surviving member of a secret RAF squadron which was sent to protect the frozen port of Murmansk on the first Arctic convoy to Northern Russia in 1941.

He will collect his long overdue Arctic convoy Star medal alongside other surviving veterans from Prime Minister David Cameron at a ceremony in Downing Street tomorrow.

Mr Carter said: "It was hellish being on those ships, danger from submarines lurked at every corner, and the men who sailed on them should have been recognised a very long time ago.

"I can tell you how bad it was because when we disembarked to go to Murmansk I was very happy to be facing the Luftwaffe hundreds of miles from home in a frozen foreign country rather than have to get back on that ship. It is just sad so many men have died without being presented this medal.

"I will receive mine with honour and dignity in memory of every last one of them."

More than 3,000 seamen died over four years from 1941 on missions to keep open supply lines to Soviet ports which were dubbed the "worst journey in the world" by Winston Churchill. Mr Carter was just 21 when he was deployed with RAF 151 Wing, flying Hurricanes as part of the covert Force Benedict on the first Arctic convoy to North Russia.

Their mission was to keep the Luftwaffe at bay and keep open supply lines to the vital port of Murmansk in the early days of the war in Russia.

Following Stalin's death, and while the story was still denied in Britain, the Russians regularly feted Mr Carter in Moscow and even gave him the honour of being the only Westerner to tour a nuclear submarine in the heavily guarded port of Vladivostock.

Eric said: "I don't think the operation gets the credit it deserves because if Murmansk had fallen, I think the Germans would have beaten Russia and the whole course of history would be very different."

CAPTION(S):

Honoured: Eric's medals.

Brave: Eric Carter is thought to be the last surviving member of a secret RAF squadron. Right, with his Hurricane.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Geographic Code:0ARCT
Date:Mar 18, 2013
Words:402
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