THE founder of Swindon Sea Cadets, Cyril Bartlett, has been awarded an Arctic Star medal in recognition of his service to his country.
The 93-year-old war veteran, who was born and raised in Swindon and now lives in Old Walcot, volunteered to join the Royal Navy when he was only 20 to help fight the Nazis during the Second World War.
He spent some time aboard the HMS Vervain, which travelled deep into the Arctic Circle facing freezing temperatures in a service which earned him the Arctic Star.
Cyril’s son David, who also lives in Old Walcot and is his father’s full time carer, said: “I was exceptionally proud as I am of everybody that has fought in the war.
“I am not sure how father himself felt, these things can be very overwhelming.”
Cyril was presented with the medal at a special ceremony at the 4th TS Resolution Swindon unit of the Sea Cadets building in Upham Road by Rear Admiral Wilkinson.
David said: “It was an exceptional evening. All the sea cadets and their officers were there and Rear Admiral Wilkinson presented father with the medal and gave a short speech as well.
“Although father joined the navy to this day he has never been able to swim. When they used to play water polo when they were out at sea he used to have to wear a lifejacket.
“But if they had fallen into the sea then they would only have survived for five minutes before they froze to death.
“When they were near the Russian coast they had to chip off the ice from the super structure every hour otherwise the ship would have ‘turned turtle’.”
Even before Cyril joined the war in 1940 he had already established the first Swindon unit of the sea cadets in the town centre.
David said: “He wanted to do something to help out the young people. He had seen other units in other places and just thought it was a great thing for young people to have.
“He later established and was commanding officer of the first sea cadet training centre at Wroughton in the early ‘70s.”
l To find out more about the Swindon Sea Cadets call 01793 532059 or visit www.sea-cadets.org/swindon.