Russia honours Arctic convoy veteran Thomas

BEARSDEN. Thomas George Baker with his 2nd medal for being in the Arctic convoys.
BEARSDEN. Thomas George Baker with his 2nd medal for being in the Arctic convoys.

A Bearsden man was thrilled to receive his second medal for his role in the Arctic convoys during the Second World War.

Thomas George Baker (90) from Ledi Drive in Bearsden already has 10 medals for his service with the Royal Navy, including a Victory Medal, one for being on HMS Sheffield and for taking part in operations in the Atlantic, Italy the Arctic and Russia.

He was presented with the Ushakov Medal, from the Russian Embassy, at Glasgow City Council Chambers last Friday.

Mr Baker joined the Royal Navy in 1942 when he was only 18 and he served on HMS Sheffield until the end of the war in 1945.

He said: “I joined the Navy for the fun of it. It was fun for a while, but then it got very serious.

“Our base with HMS Sheffield was Scapa Flow and we went after any ships that came out of Germany or Norway, to protect ships going to Russia.

“On our third protection duty to chase away one of Germany’s biggest battleships, we were told not to attack as a ship was being sent from Newcastle and the Navy wanted it to make a name for itself.

“We kept the battleship in sight and at first it headed straight for us then turned towards Norway.

“We were hit by a shell and we lost a propellor, so our speed dropped down from 34 miles per hour to 28.

“The HMS Belfast was in front of us and was firing shots at the German battleship and we could see they were missing, then three destroyers were sent in and it went down.

“It was the middle of winter, and the water was freezing cold, only the officers survived as they had special hot air suits and all the others on the ship perished.”

Mr Baker added: “It’s a great thing to get this medal as we have waited from 1943 until now.

“Although I’m sad that the other people who took part and have died since did not get a medal.

“There aren’t many people now with World War Two medals.

“I’m a member of The Royal British Legion Scotland and it’s great for younger members to see what you can get to commemorate these actions.”

Mr Baker knows how lucky he is to have survived as sadly his brother was killed at the start of the war at Scapa Flow.