Wiltshire heroes’ memories saved

This Is Wiltshire: Gilbert Grace,of Trowbridge, left,  Denis Pickett of Holt and Joseph Grant of Trowbridge at the Arctic Convoy Star presentations last year Gilbert Grace,of Trowbridge, left, Denis Pickett of Holt and Joseph Grant of Trowbridge at the Arctic Convoy Star presentations last year

Veterans who took part in one of the most dangerous missions of the Second World War have spoken about a new exhibition that will ensure their heroism is preserved for posterity.

There are currently 23 servicemen left in the county who served on the Arctic Convoys, delivering essential supplies to the Russians, which Winston Churchill famously described as “the worst journey in history”.

Now, thanks to a £10,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant, their memories will not be lost: The Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre in Chippenham is to host an exhibition of the veterans’ experiences on the convoy, based around interviews with the surviving members.

Dennis Pickett, 88, who was born in Trowbridge and lives in Holt, said: “It will be a good thing to have the exhibition as people will be able to look back and see what we went through.

“I certainly wouldn’t want to go through it again as it was a tough time, but it is important that it is not forgotten.”

Gilbert Grace, of Trowbridge, said: “It’s a very good idea; it will give people an insight into how bad the conditions were for us.”

A professional historian and volunteers from the Trowbridge branch of the White Ensign Association, Wiltshire’s oldest independent naval charity, will conduct interviews with the men, which will form part of an online exhibition and a drama by a youth theatre group from Salisbury.

Photographic portraits will also be taken to create a visual record of the veterans.

Last year, all of Wiltshire’s surviving veterans were awarded the Arctic Star medal as recognition for their sacrifice in a ceremony at County Hall in Trowbridge.

Trowbridge councillor Graham Payne, secretary of the Trowbridge White Ensign Association, said: “It’s important that we get these memories down as soon as we can so they can be preserved.”

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