THE daughter of a sailor who took part in one of the most difficult campaigns of the Second World War was “thrilled”to receive a medal recognising his service.

From 1939 to 1945, thousands of British sailors and merchant seamen were engaged in a bitter struggle to provide material to support the Soviet war effort. This involved escorting ships in waters patrolled by German ships and U-boats – described by Winston Churchill as “the worst journey in the world”.

The Artic convoys cost the lives of around 3,000 sailors and merchant seamen, with over 100 civilian and military ships being lost.

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One of the men who served on these convoys was Michael Laheney. His daughter, Margaret Bolton, who lives in a Railway Housing Association bungalow in Plevna Mews, Shildon, applied for a new medal being given to veterans who served on the convoys on behalf of her late father, who died of cancer aged only 46.

The Artic Star medal was instituted in 2012 after a campaign by surviving veterans.

She said: “I was thrilled when I received the medal and a letter from the Ministry of Defence – it gives me something else to remember my father by.”

Mrs Bolton, who was a child when her father joined the Royal Navy in 1940, said: “We were living in Hartlepool at the time and that was bombed quite badly. My father was away when his brother, his wife and their two children were killed in a bombing raid.

“My dad was told on the ship that there was bad news and that his family had been killed and he immediately thought it was us. He came back for the funeral and it was very sad, especially as the two boys were aged just three and five.”

Mrs Bolton said her father didn’t talk much about his experience on the Artic Convoy, although he did have a habit of using Royal Navy speak when he was at home.

She said: “He would always refer to things hitting the deck when we dropped something and once I heard him talk to my mother about tinned fish. I thought he was referring to sardines, but that was the name they gave to torpedos that were fired at the ships.”

She added that as well as the Artic convoys, her father travelled all over the world with the Royal Navy during the War.

“They once stopped at New York and the film stars of the day like Barbara Stanwyck and Deborah Kerr served them food as they were helping out with the war effort. He enjoyed that,” she said.

Mrs Bolton also applied to Russia to see if her father would qualify for the Makarov Medal, which the country was presenting to those who came to its aid during the War.

Russian law prevents the medal from being issued posthumously, but she still received a letter from the Government which said: “Let me assure you the Russian people do remember and greatly value the role of all British allies who fought together against the common enemy during World War Two. Mr Laheney’s contribution to our joint victory is highly appreciated.”