Widow claims Arctic Star medal for late husband who served on Russian Convoys

Violet Miller, with her husband's Arctic Convoy Medal, awarded posthumously.
Violet Miller, with her husband's Arctic Convoy Medal, awarded posthumously.
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A WIDOW has honoured her husband’s memory by claiming a medal in his name.

Violet Miller applied for the Arctic Star posthumously for Ralph Knox Miller, who sailed on Russian Convoys between 1941 and 1942.

Violet Miller on her wedding day.

Violet Miller on her wedding day.

The 93-year-old, of Harbour Lodge, East Shore Village, Seaham, wanted to add the medal to the collection of four which Ralph gained for his time at sea.

“I heard David Cameron talking about it on the news and I thought I would like to apply,” said the mum-of-two, whose son Richard, 63, of Geelong, Australia, is set to inherit his father’s medals.

“I had applied for one from the Russians a while ago but they had stopped making them, so I couldn’t get one.

“I think Ralph would be thrilled. I am.” Violet sent away for the medal with the help of Seaham Town and Durham County Councillor Jennifer Bell, who wrote to Easington MP Grahame Morris and said the former World War Two telephonist wanted to apply for the Arctic Star for her husband.

Ralph, who died aged 75 in 1991, was a second officer in the Merchant Navy. He and Violet were married at St Mary Magdalen Church, Seaham, on December 13, 1941. Ralph left the next day to join his ship.

“I went with him to stay on the ship for a few days before they sailed,” said Violet. “It was eerie.

“Then I had to leave and get the train home from Scotland by myself, which made me nervous.

“I no sooner got back than I got a telegram which said I should go and meet him at Newcastle station.”

The convoy Ralph had been sailing in was torpedoed. The crew was picked up by other British ships and brought back.

“When I saw him he looked a state,” said Violet. “I asked him where his collar and tie were – I didn’t know what had happened to him.

“Then he told me that the Salvation Army had dressed him. He told me he had been in the water for two minutes, freezing, watching other men get shot, before he was picked out. They put him in front of a fire, wrapped in hessian and tinfoil to warm him up.”

Ralph, also dad to the couple’s son Malcolm, who died about 18 months ago, aged 67, worked at the Forum Cinema, Hartlepool, and as a ships’ pilot at Seaham docks until he retired, after leaving the Merchant Navy.

“He wasn’t a big broad fellow,” said Violet. “But he was a good man.”