Medal 'an insult' to brave dead seamen
A SECOND World War veteran who has just been awarded the newly-created Arctic Star feels the Government should have issued the medal much sooner.
Alan Heumann from Louth has received the medal and ribbon which was introduced this year to veterans of the Arctic Convoys. It is awarded for service to men who served in the battle.
But after 70 years since demob from the Royal Navy, Mr Heumann said the medal should have been issued much sooner.
He said: "My first thoughts were that, now that so many of those who would have qualified are long gone, why spend taxpayers' money on making and delivering another medal and its ribbon to the very few still able to receive it? One suggested figure is that only 200 of us remain.
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"It is an insult to all the people who would have appreciated it but have now died.
"It should have been 20-30 years ago. If the Russians can issue a medal and ribbon to all who were entitled , then there was no reason why we couldn't.
"It is a good thing to receive but it should have been sooner."
Mr Heumann received his Russian star in 1991 and received the Atlantic Star at the end of the war.
He came to Lincolnshire in 1972, moving to Skidbrook where he grew his own food and lived fairly self-sufficiently.
He came to Louth in 1999 where he has lived ever since.
He goes to Louth Hospital Club and used to serve on the committee at Spout Yard Park and latterly as a governor at Cordeaux.
Mr Heumann, who is entering his 90th year, said memories, although sometimes vivid, were fragmentary.
He recalled how in winter the seas could get rough, into hurricane gales of category three.
He said: "One never forgot the ship - a carrier of some 18,000 tons. Yawing its way through hundred foot high waves. The ship first stood on her stern with bows out of the water, and then on her bows with stern out of the seas. When this happed the screws would scream and thunder with a frenetic whirr of props, shafts and engines until the stern reentered, with a crash and a bang.
"During this trip our sister ship, the carrier Nirvana, lost her flight deck. On arrival back at Scapa it was curled like a gigantic C."
Mr Heumann said that during the year 1944-5 one-and-a-quarter million tons of cargo was shipped from the UK to Russia.
He said: "In those 12 months, 28 enemy ships were sunk and 57 damaged.
"At least 55 German aircraft were deed, five U-boots were definitely sunk and another eight possibly.
"The UK lost four escort ships and at least nine merchant ships."