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Arctic Star and Arctic Emblem: Recognition for taking part in the worst journey in the world

Arctic Star and Arctic Emblem awarded to John (Jack) Corry, Belfast Temple Corps

The words “We’ll be heroes, we’ll be heroes, when the battle is fierce” were never more meaningful than this past week when John (Jack) Corry, Belfast Temple received his long awaited and well deserved medals for his service in the Arctic Convoys during the Second World War.  Once described as “the worst journey in the world” by Winston Churchill, the Arctic Convoy heroes risked their lives running a gauntlet of submarine, air and battleship attacks, in sub-zero conditions.

After a long campaign to recognise the extraordinary bravery of those who served, the Arctic Star and Arctic Emblem were both awarded this week to Jack Corry and the remaining less than 200 veterans who also took part in the Arctic Convoys.

As a young soprano cornet player in his corps band (Ballymacarrett Mountpottinger – now Belfast Temple), at the age of 20, he willingly volunteered for service in the Royal Navy and served in three escort carriers in Norway operations, the D-Day landings, Arctic Convoys and Far Eastern campaigns.   As a keen bandsman his soprano cornet went into the Royal Navy with him and it was during a practicing session on board ship that he was overheard by a Senior Officer and was duly “commissioned” to be the ships impromptu trumpeter.  He was called upon on many occasions to fulfil duties at religious services and committals at sea.  By sheer coincidence, his final ship was HMS Trumpeter.

John was a young soprano cornet player in his corps band

70 years after the Arctic Convoys sailed to Russia, his family are thrilled that his bravery and that of the other Arctic veterans has been finally recognised and appropriately rewarded.  Whilst he remains very ill in hospital, in his ninetieth year, the family were greatly honoured to place in his hands the medals that he had rightfully earned for his courage and dedication to such a significant and gruelling mission.  These will add to his collection of medals already earned in the line of duty.