A man who celebrated his 19th birthday on the Arctic convoys during the Second World War has received his campaign medal – 68 years later.

Geoff Mellor, now 87, was one of the youngest sailors to be part of the convoys.

Geoff, of Waterloo, has been honoured with the newly-minted Arctic Star.

It was presented at a special ceremony at the Royal Naval Association branch in Huddersfield.

The medals have been created for those veterans who risked their lives in shipping convoys north of the Arctic Circle.

Father-of-two Geoff, married to Nancy, also 87, served on board the Zambesi-class destroyer HMS Myngs.

He was called up on April 27, 1944 and de-mobbed in May 1946.

Geoff, who also has three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, was deployed to help protect the convoys between the UK and North Russia.

The convoys faced attack from German U-boats and Geoff, a torpedoman, remembers how three British ships were sunk, including HMS Lapwing.

His abiding memory is the extreme cold.

“I was out on the quarterdeck most of the time and had several layers of clothing on but was still frozen through,” said Geoff.

“I don’t know what the temperature was. I just know it was very, very cold!

Geoff Mellor pictured in 1945, aged 19
Geoff Mellor pictured in 1945, aged 19
 

“I wore three balaclavas, an oil skin coat, a Navy coat, a lumber jacket, a Navy jacket, overalls, sea boots and three pairs of socks but I was still cold.

“And I never took my clothes off for three weeks.”

He added: “We were chipping ice all the time and when the spray came over and hit metal it just froze.”

Geoff’s task on board was launching torpedos and depth charges.

“We released 180 depth charges going and 96 coming back,” he said.

Geoff also recalled his 19th birthday and a surprise on his return to dock at Greenock on the Clyde.

“When we got back from Russia we would get our mail,” he said.

“My mother used to send me the Examiner and I opened it to read a message which said: ‘To Geoff. Somewhere out at sea on his 19th birthday’. I got a real shock!”

At such a youthful age, Geoff was blase about the dangers.

“At that age you think you are indestructible,” said Geoff.

“I am really proud to have served but at the time you don’t think about it.

“When the Lapwing went down some of the survivors came back on our ship and they were in shock, trembling. It was terrible.

“They were lucky to survive. We had so much clothing on that if you went into the water you had no chance.

“The ones who survived were covered in oil which insulated them a bit.”

Dave McDonald, chairman of the Royal Naval Association Huddersfield branch, presented Geoff with his medal, describing him as one of the convoy heroes.

Geoff Mellor's ship, the destroyer HMS Myngs
Geoff Mellor's ship, the destroyer HMS Myngs