Arctic Star awarded to WWII veteran living in Halifax
93-year-old veteran awarded British award
A 93-year-old veteran was honoured Monday in Halifax for his naval service in Arctic waters during the Second World War.
Walter J. Murphy helped protect convoys of supplies to the former Soviet Union more than 70 years ago.
On Monday he was surrounded by family as he received the Arctic Star from the lieutenant governor.
“I didn't expect all this fuss over a medal, really,” Murphy said.
The Arctic Star was created two years ago by the British government to honour veterans who served in the Arctic during the Second World War.
Murphy was a gunner on HMS Berwick, protecting cargo ships from Nazi ships and submarines.
“Some of those convoys probably never even saw us. We had them on radar and we knew where they were. And we were looking for German battleships coming out of the Denmark Strait,” he said.
The Royal Canadian Navy had a role protecting the Arctic, but as a Newfoundlander Murphy served in the British Royal Navy.
In winter, ships from North America and Britain would travel northwards, running a gauntlet of enemy ships on the way to Russian ports.
Murphy remembers the harsh weather that would “blow your head off.”
He'd even sleep above deck in those frigid conditions.
“Sometimes closed up at action stations for 48 hours in certain sectors. So I had my hammock up underneath the gun shelter. But with an extra blanket, it wasn't too bad,” he said.
His sons say he's downplaying what he endured.
“I served in the navy and I know what the sea is like. I believe he was being a little bit conservative,” said Barry Reed.
After more than 70 years, Murphy’s family still believe the Arctic Star counts for something.
“I think it's important to mark the occasion. Not just let it go by uncelebrated. These things can easily be forgotten and they're far too important,” said son Shaun Murphy.
Murphy signed up with the Royal Canadian Navy when the province joined Canada in 1949. He lived in Dartmouth during the 1950's.
The ceremony served as a chance to honour him.
“We know him not just as a guy who wins medals, but just a great dad also,” said Shaun Murphy.