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War hero Huw honoured seven decades on

Lilian Roberts with her Husbands war medal..Picture Richard Ponter 134802a

Lilian Roberts with her Husbands war medal..Picture Richard Ponter 134802a

A Sleights man has been posthumously honoured for his part in one of the Second World War’s most daring missions.

Huw Roberts, who died in 2008, was one of 66,000 Royal Navy sailors and merchant seamen who braved German U-Boats and sub-zero temperatures to keep supply lines to the Soviet Union open.

Mr Roberts’ widow Lilian finally received the Arctic Star medal from the Ministry of Defence this week, however she had mixed feelings.

“I was elated to begin with, but sad he wasn’t there to see it,” Mrs Roberts revealed.

“He would be very proud, he was proud of all his medals.”

Mr Roberts, who was aboard the Helga Maria with Whitby adventurer Jack Lammiman, also has a British Empire medal and survived the sinking of the Ark Royal, in 1941, off Gibraltar.

His long Navy career proved problematic when Lilian contacted the Under-secretary of State for Defence.

“I had to write to them with all the ships he’s been on for 25 years- there were lots,” she said. The Soviet Union, then known as the Commonwealth of Independent States, sent Mr Roberts a medal in 1992 for his part in The Arctic Convoys.

Mr Roberts joined the Royal Navy at 14, seeing action on Mediterranean Convoys to Malta and was aboard HMS Cockade, the first British ship to enter Tokyo, at the end of the War.

He joined the first Clearance Diving branch on his return from active service in 1947, clearing bombs and mines from Malta, Libya and ports in Britain. Lilian recounted that once he performed a controlled explosion off Scarborough, but didn’t go far enough offshore and accidentally blew out some windows on the town’s seafront.

He was recruited into the Royal Admiralty’s underwater experimental weapons programme, where he met section head Buster Crabbe, who became famous for going missing while examining a Russian vessel.

 

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