As Europe marks 70 years since the end of World War Two, an Icklingham veteran has finally received a commendation from Russia for his work in one of the conflict’s most dangerous convoys.
Leslie Cooke, 89, served with the Arctic Convoy from 1943 to 1946, which embarked on perilous journeys through the Nazi-patrolled Arctic Ocean to deliver supplies and weapons to Russia.
He was visited at home by a member of the Russian Embassy last month and presented with the Ushakov Medal, awarded by the Russian Federation for his services to the Arctic Convoy.
Of his latest commendation, Leslie said: “It’s nice to have the recognition.
“It is nice to look back on, I have photographs of different places and events, but I’m just glad I got through it all.
“Sometimes it was very frightening. There were several moments when we went to Russia when you thought you may not be coming home.
“As soon as you got to Norway, the enemy were coming and they did what they could to get rid of you. It was a bit hairy at times.”
London-born Leslie also worked on ships delivering supplies around the French Atlantic and the Bay of Biscay.
“We got around a bit. We just did what we were told to do and got on with it,” he said.
The medal is not Leslie’s first military decoration. He also holds the D-Day Medal and the Atlantic Medal.
Having moved to Suffolk with his family in 1933, Leslie now lives with wife Esther, whom he has known since childhood.