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A Portreath widow welcomes late husband's Arctic Star award

By bevcoumbe  |  Posted: November 12, 2013

  • The crew of the HMS Pyrrus in which Bill Meneer served during WW2.

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A Royal Navy veteran who endured one of the most treacherous missions of the Second World War has been posthumously awarded the Arctic Star medal.

Lead telegraphist, Bill Meneer, from Redruth, worked on board naval frigates escorting merchant ships heading to Murmansk in north Russia.

His son, Andy, applied to the MOD for the Arctic Star on behalf of his late father, who died in 1981 aged 61.

The honour is being awarded for the first time this year, 70 years on, in recognition of the service during the dangerous maritime Arctic Convoy missions.

The sailors worked to keep supplies flowing to the Soviet Union.

Mr Meneer worked on board HMS Pyrrhus and HMS Britomark based in West Hartlepool.

His second son, David, said his father never spoke of his years at sea during the conflict, which Prime Minister Winston Churchill at the time described as “the worst journey in the world”.

He would have been working in sub-zero temperatures facing attacks from German bombers and U-boats.

During the war he courted his wife, Joan and even sent her a three word telegram from his ship asking her to marry him.

The proposal said: “Shall we marry?” Joan’s reply: “Lets do.”

The couple endured 10 month stretches apart as he worked at sea under perilous conditions, with just two weeks leave in between.

They were married on December 6, 1941, at St Andrews in Redruth, after obtaining a special licence.

Mr Meneer was demobbed in 1946, but was unable to return to his wife after his crew was tasked with returning their borrowed ship to Canada.

“He couldn’t get back and ended up working as a lumberjack in Canada for 12 months,” said David.

The couple settled in Redruth running the Western Inn in West End, now Mayfair Apartments, from 1960 to 1981.

David said: “He was a great publican and enjoyed smoking a pipe. The pub was popular with rugby players and nurses from the nearby hospital.”

Now 70 years after the dangerous missions, his widow, 94, who lives in Portreath, accepted the award saying: “It was a long time coming.”

David added: “He had three other war medals, this is the last one. It is nice that his efforts are finally being recognised along with all the other sailors that took part. It is long over due and well deserved."

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