Modest naval veteran finally receives medal for taking part in convoy

HMS Domett 1943
HMS Domett 1943
0
Have your say

A Brackley resident and veteran of gruelling Second World War convoys to 
resupply Russian allies has received the newly-created Arctic Convoy Star.

More than 70 years ago David Whitehead, of Jarvis Court, enlisted as a wireless operator and travelled the north Atlantic escorting troop and supply ships and hunting for submarines.

Towcester, Artic Convoy medal pres: MP Andrea Leadsom, with David Whitehead,'26/04/13

Towcester, Artic Convoy medal pres: MP Andrea Leadsom, with David Whitehead,'26/04/13

In 1944 he was on HMS Domett when it took part in what Winston Churchill described as one of the worst journeys in the world.

Not only did crews have to dodge the ever present threat of U-boats, but they had to 
deal with temperatures well below zero and gale force winds.

Men lost limbs to frost bite and anyone who fell overboard would have been dead within minutes.

Mr Whitehead was lucky to be tucked away in the radio room most of the time, but said: “It’s debatable which was the most troublesome – the weather, or the enemy.”

He added: “The press are very keen on talking about anyone who took part in the war as a hero. But it wasn’t like that at all –our ship was just one 
in a group escorting the convoy and did dozens of convoys to America and Canada that probably were more 
dangerous.

“We escorted ships to Italy during the landings at Anzio, so it was pretty horrendous all the time. The only thing about the Arctic was the extreme weather.

“The guys on the convoy were part of a team who went where we were sent, there was no question of volunteering, we were just there.”

Mr Whitehead gave special thanks to south Northants MP Andrea Leadsom, who was one of one those who campaigned for the medal to be minted.