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by Sam Blewett, Reporter
Friday, March 7, 2014
A survivor of the highly-dangerous Second World War Arctic convoy missions has finally been honoured nearly a year after some other veterans because the government mistakenly believed he was dead.
Not only did Leslie Claydon, 95, survive attacks from Nazi forces, he managed to outlive the administrative error by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), which had classed him deceased, and saw his medal presentation 11 months after it was first awarded to others.
Mr Claydon received the coveted Arctic Star for his services in the freezing Arctic Circle in a ceremony at Abbcross Nursing Home, in Brentwood Road, Romford, on Tuesday.
Tragically, his son Ian Claydon, who had tried to apply for the medal on behalf of his frail father, died before the belated hand-over by Havering Mayor Cllr Eric Munday.
Mr Claydon’s daughter Dr Gillian Harris, of Hockley, Essex, took over the medal-seeking duty after her brother, of Harold Wood, passed away suddenly in December 2012, aged 67.
She says she filled in the application form “clearly leaving the date of death area blank” and sent repeated emails to the MoD but got no response.
“I emailed them,” she said. “I wrote to them, and eventually they said we have dealt with all the people [due a medal] who are alive, we are now looking at the relatives of dead service personal.”
Dr Harris was concerned that due to her father’s age, time was of the essence.
“They all thought he was dead,” she said, “but he wasn’t, so I said you need to prioritise him first. Because my father is partially-sighted I used my contact details so they must have presumed I was applying for my late father.”
Mr Claydon, who on the minesweeper the HMS Speedwell, said: “Thank you very much. I’m very proud.”
The MoD were contacted but did not respond.