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AXMINSTER: Modest Alan receives his Artic Star medal
Thursday, 05 December 2013
An Axminster man who has been awarded The Arctic Star insists he is not a hero.
Alan Bird is among thousands of World War II veterans belatedly rewarded for taking part in dangerous missions in the Arctic.
Mr Bird joined the Navy in the early 1940s and would spend a large part of World War II aboard HMS Dido, a light cruiser.
The vessel was part of Arctic convoys travelling to and from Murmansk, Soviet Union, from Scapa Flow, Scotland, protecting merchant ships. He came through it unscathed, but recalled: “Every day there was an incident. You were at action stations all the time.
“Norway was occupied and Germany controlled the bases there and we were handy for them to target.
“They had a habit of it.”
He is very modest about the part he played himself, though, saying: “I’m no hero or anything.
“I just happened to be there at that time.
“The people who served in the Merchant Navy were the real heroes.
“If it hadn’t been for the Merchant Navy there would have been no food in this country.”
After convoy duties, Mr Bird and HMS Dido travelled south and arrived in Copenhagen just after liberation in May 1945.
On May 9th, they accepted the surrender of German cruisers Prinz Eugen and Nurnberg at Copenhagen.
Mr Bird, who hails from Middlesbrough, left the Navy in the late 40s and worked for BT until retirement. He moved to Axminster with his wife Joan about 20 years ago.
The Arctic Star is a retrospective award, coming nearly 70 years after the end of the war.
Following an independent medal review in 2012, it was decided that the Arctic Star and Bomber Command Clasp should given in recognition of the great bravery of those who contributed to two very significant campaigns of World War Two.
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