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Tributes to Sunderland Russian Convoy sailor

John Brrok with his wife Maureen Brook.

Merchant Seaman

John Brrok with his wife Maureen Brook. Merchant Seaman

A LIFE-SAVING seaman who sailed across the world has died at the age of 90.

Merchant Navy officer John Brook joined the force at the age of 14 and went on to join the crews in the infamous Russian Convoys during the Second World War.

He was onboard the British Unity in the PQ12 convoy when a boat in the fleet was torpedoed.

John, who grew up in Town End Farm, and his fellow crewmen picked up 22 survivors

He escaped tragedy himself when he was sailing on the Sunderland-built ship Empire City as it took a hit in August 1944 while off the African coast.

He and his colleagues managed to climb into a lifeboat before the ship was sunk.

His wartime adventures also took him to the Americas, the Mediterranean and the Far East.

He received five medals from his time in the Merchant Navy and retired from service in 1952.

He had said of his career: “I was lucky to come home in one piece.

“Some of my friends didn’t. They’re all lying at the bottom of the sea, and I’ll never forget them.”

John, who was one of six children, went on to work as a boiler maker at JL Thompson’s ship yard after his time in service, and retired in the 1980s.

His family said he was a quiet, dependable man.

Of the men he sailed with in the convoys, John was the last survivor.

His wife, Maureen, 74, said she wants to pass on his story to future generations because the work he and his colleagues did was commendable.

She said: “He never spoke about his experiences, to him it was just a job, but they were so brave.”

John and Maureen, settled in Farringdon and had been married for 27 years.

John had a daughter from a previous marriage, Heath Harrington, who grew up in Plains Farm and moved to Canada at the age of 18.

He was also grandad to two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Maureen said: “He was a staunch friend, a good companion, and a good man.

“There aren’t many of them left.”

Friends and family gathered to say their final goodbye to John at his funeral on Tuesday.

 

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