Alex was so proud of Ushakov Medal

Russian convoy veteran Alexander Ramsay.
Russian convoy veteran Alexander Ramsay.
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A VETERAN of the Arctic Convoys who received a medal for courage has died.

Alexander Ramsay, 88, was among those who braved freezing conditions to deliver vital supplies to the Soviet Union as they battled the Axis powers.

The former Merchant Navy man was awarded the Ushakov medal – and a bottle of vodka – by top diplomat Andrey Pritsepov, the Russian consul general who visited Mr Ramsay’s Milton Court retirement home in Portobello in December last year.

Mr Ramsay – known to family and friends as Alex – died at the Western General after a 15-week stay in hospital.

His family said receiving the medal before he died had ranked among the “proudest moments of his life”.

Daughter-in-law Carol Ramsay said: “We had began inquiring about getting him into a nursing home near us, but sadly he picked up a chest infection in hospital. My husband and I were with him until he died, which was very sad.

“He was a proud, proud man – when he received the Ushakov medal, it was one of the proudest moments in his life.”

The Arctic Convoys suffered heavy casualties, with 85 merchant vessels and 16 Royal Navy warships lost during the missions.

Mr Ramsay worked as bus conductor after he left the Merchant Navy. He went on to drive buses in and around the city and was one of the first drivers to work on the Edinburgh Airport route.

He lived most of his life in Abbeyhill before moving to the retirement home in Portobello in 2006. Mr Ramsay leaves behind two children, Christine and Stuart, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. His funeral will take place today at Warriston Crematorium.

The medal, named after Fyodor Ushakov, an 18th-century naval commander, is awarded to veterans “for personal courage and valour shown during the Second World War while participating in the Arctic Convoys”.

His three older brothers enrolled in the army but, at just 16, Alex was technically too young.

However, he was determined to play his part, against his mother’s will, and to contribute to the war effort.

When he got his medal, Mr Ramsay said: “I am thrilled to receive another medal for my involvement in the war effort – it gives me a reason to reflect on the time I spent in the Merchant Navy.

“My main memory of the convoy was the camaraderie and the great team spirit on the boat, whilst we battled the enduring and bitterly cold weather.”

From 1941 to 1945 Allied ships left the Clyde and Loch Ewe to deliver supplies of food and weapons. More than 3000 seamen lost their lives to the freezing conditions and attacks by German submarines and aircraft.

JOHN CONNELL