Rugby Navy veteran receives Arctic Star medal after seven decade wait

Peter Price a Second World War veteran, has been awarded an Arctic Star war medal for his services. He worked monitoring the radar screen escorting ships between Iceland and Russia.
Peter Price a Second World War veteran, has been awarded an Arctic Star war medal for his services. He worked monitoring the radar screen escorting ships between Iceland and Russia.

After 68 years a former Royal Navy sailor was awarded an Arctic Star medal last week for his services during the Second World War.

Eighty-six-year-old Peter Price of Newbold braved sub-zero temperatures and horrific storms north of the Arctic Circle to ensure the safety of American and Soviet cargo ships. He worked monitoring HMS Zest’s radar screens, watching for U-boats and incoming aircraft.

Mr Price said he was delighted to receive a medal. “Sailing north of the Arctic Circle was very treacherous. It was so cold we had to chisel the ice off the ship’s guns, and the sea was extremely rough,” he said. “There was also the constant threat of U-Boats, although we did manage to sink one once.”

HMS Zest was a destroyer launched in 1943, the same year Mr Price joined the Royal Navy when he was 16. Mr Price and HMS Zest were also vital in the famous rescue of 585 Norwegians from Soroy Island, Norway, in March 1945. The rescue involved three destroyers rushing down an eight-mile fjord deep into enemy territory to rescue a group of stranded civilians who had been hunted by the Nazis for three months. Upon seeing the two British and one Canadian ship, hundreds of exhausted Norwegians skied down towards the shore, some carrying babies and personal possessions. They were rushed aboard and taken to safety before the Nazis realised what was going on. Aboard Zest the refugees were given hot food, and the men cigarettes and the children chocolates.

Mr Price said sailing around Bear Island, a tiny uninhabited island 250 miles north of mainland Norway, was also particularly dangerous.

“There would often be a pack of U-boats around Bear Island waiting to ambush us,” he said. “We did lose ships there, unfortunately. It was constantly patrolled by U-boats on the hunt for convoys like ours.”

The medal, which was awarded last week, means Mr Price now has a total of six medals for his service. He is one of around 400 veterans left entitled to it.