“75-Year Commemorative Medals – SA Arctic Convoy Veterans honoured by Russia”
This year, 2020, marked the 75th anniversary of the end of the Great Patriotic War. This is the term used in Russia to refer to the conflicts between the then Soviet Union and Nazi Germany from 1941 to 1945 along the Eastern Front of World War II. Russia traditionally celebrates Victory Day on 9 May every year, but this year delayed the celebrations due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
On Monday 21 September 2020, the Russian Ambassador to South Africa, His Excellency Mr Ilya Rogachev, awarded Jubilee Medals to two Arctic Convoy veterans living in Cape Town – Mr Joseph Wilkinson (94) and Mr Trevor Poland (97).
It is particularly fitting that the two received these medals just a few days before South Africa held its annual Heritage Day celebrations on 24 September.
We owe these men – and all their compatriots, many of them also just young lads barely out of school when they enlisted – an enormous debt of gratitude, and it is appropriate to remember and honour what they did.
Published in the Navy News of December 2020-January 2021.