A Renfrew man who took part in WW2 Arctic Convoys has been honoured by Russia.
Albert Young, was presented with the sterling silver medal this month by Andrew Pritsepov, the Consul General of the Russian Federation, who visited The Erskine Home, Bishopton along with his two aides.
Albert, aged 95, who now lives in spent 12 years with the Royal Navy after volunteering aged just 17. A love of boats since childhood was the catalyst for Albert’s career at sea. “Being in the Royal Navy was a good life,” said Albert. “I got to see various places in the world including Durban, Africa; Spitsbergen,Norway with the furthest North I travelled being the Arctic Circle. I enjoyed the company on the ships.”
During the WW2 Arctic Convoys able seaman Albert was a Captain of ‘Y’ gun on HMS Windsor which escorted tankers taking oil to Russia. Albert’s ship sailed from Scapa Flow in September a day ahead of the convoys with the journey taking about seven days.
Albert remembers vividly being in action against German E-boats as they fired at the Windsor. One night a shell hit the gun shield on his boat with the gun going on fire. Albert instructed one of his seven gun crew to go and get the fire extinguisher and the blazing gun, which had become an obvious target in the darkness, was put out within minutes. (Coincidently, Albert remembers that the man who put out the fire went on to be a fireman in London after leaving the Navy.)
HMS Windsor then escorted the convoy on the journey back home from Russia. Albert specifically remembered one of the ships which was badly damaged due to being torpedoed. Albert recalls an almighty gale blowing up which split the damaged ship in half, tragically resulting in many of the crew drowning. Also on the harsh journey home Albert’s ship was rammed by one of the convoy, so HMS Windsor ended up in dry docks in Hull for nine weeks.
Despite enduring first-hand the horrors of war, Albert said he never felt frightened. Even as a child, being the youngest of a family of 10 with three brothers also serving in WW2, Albert was always said to be a brave wee boy which is something his most recent medal endorses.
The Medal of Ushakov is one of the most highly esteemed Military Awards in Russia and one of the top ranking Russian Naval decorations presented for exceptional valour in combat being awarded to those who demonstrated courage and prowess in sea warfare. On being asked how he felt after receiving this medal for his bravery, stoic Albert said: “I just feel the same, I don’t feel any different. But I do feel honoured that the Russian Consul General came to pin a medal on me!”
Albert’s tally of medals now stands at seven, three of which relate to his role in the Arctic Convoys, and also include the African Star and Atlantic Star.