War hero honoured
PUBLISHED: 11:45 20 May 2010 | UPDATED: 11:43 23 August 2010
THE last surviving founding member of the Gravesend Royal Marines Association has been honoured by the Russian Government for his services to their country, writes Nicholas Hitchens. George Huddart was one of only 30 seamen to receive a 65th anniversary
THE last surviving founding member of the Gravesend Royal Marines Association has been honoured by the Russian Government for his services to their country, writes Nicholas Hitchens.
George Huddart was one of only 30 seamen to receive a 65th anniversary commemorative medal this month.
He was praised for his part in helping vital supplies and military provisions reach Russia during World War Two during a lavish ceremony at the Russian Embassy.
A marine on the battleship HMS Anson, Mr Huddart, 87, formed part of the military escort protecting merchant navy vessels as they transported goods from Great Britain and the United States between Iceland and the port of Murmansk.
He said: "The Russians are so generous and grateful to the British sailors for helping to save their country. They treat us like royalty. The Merchant Navy guys really deserve it. A lot of them gave their lives in that time."
Mr Huddart lives with his wife Joan in Hunt Road, Northfleet. He said his father Jonathon was a Royal Marine and helped get him into the navy in 1941 aged 17, so long as he signed up fully.
However, only a year into his service, patrolling the North Sea and blockading the German navy in the Norwegian Fjords, Mr Huddart was invalided when a fellow marine dropped an aluminium shell casing on his foot, breaking it.
Returning to HMS Cumberland, he served in the Pacific War based out of Ceylon, modern day Sri Lanka, and was in Burma and Java to see the release of men from the prisoner of war camps in 1945.
He added: "Some of them were just skin and bones. They were to weak to be moved so we had to leave them there."
Due to his injury, which affected his mobility, he was discharged from the Marines in 1946 and went on to found the Royal Marines Association in the town two year's later, of which he is currently vice-president
"Life in the Marines was good to me, I enjoyed my time there," he said.