War hero remembered

A Merseyside war hero that took part in the treacherous Arctic convoys in the Second World War has died.

Knotty Ash naval veteran Benjamin Hall , 92, died on Sunday.

It took almost 70 years for Mr Hall’s role in the dangerous missions to be recognised and he was belatedly awarded an Arctic Star medal honouring his wartime service in 2013.

Officials at Liverpool Town Hall were today set to fly the Union flag at half mast today following a request from Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Gary Millar.

He said he was “shocked” at news of the death and paid tribute to an “amazing man”.

Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Gary Millar said: “As we mark 100 years since the start of the First World War, 70 since the D-Day landings and 71 years since the turning point of the Battle of Atlantic I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Arctic Star Veteran Ben Hall.”

“I met Ben and his wonderful family last summer when I presented him with his long overdue Arctic Star medal.

“Liverpool and the UK owes this Knotty Ash hero an enormous debt of gratitude and the least I can do as Lord Mayor is fly our Town Hall flag at half mast”

“RIP Ben and my condolences to the Hall family.”

For decades official recognition of the service given by Mr Hall and many others was blocked due to the Cold War between the west and the USSR.

The Soviet Union long wanted to award Arctic Convoy veterans its Ushakov Medal but this was refused, especially by US influence as Russia was then a communist country.

However, following Russian premier Vladimir Putin’s visit to London, the UK government created the Arctic Star last December and was urged to act quickly because of the advancing age and ill-health of many veterans.

ben hall 4

Mr Hall’s medal was not ready in time for the Battle of the Atlantic 70th anniversary event in Liverpool, so Knotty Ash city councillor Hayley Todd requested that a special presentation should be made at the Town Hall, with the Royal Navy represented by Lt Pat O’Callaghan, from the Northern Regional HQ, Sefton Street.

At the time of receiving the award Mr Hall said: “It’s a great honour to receive the medal after nearly 70 years and I am one of the very lucky ones.

“I’m happy but sad as you remember the many friends who you lost, who never came back home and I’ve had a wonderful life with my wife and four daughters.

“I don’t know if there is anyone else on Merseyside who will receive the medal, but everyone who served on the Arctic Convoys deserves it.

“It was a very difficult time, we sailed between Scapa Flow, in northern Scotland and Kola Inlet, in Russia.

“Temperatures were 40 below zero, you never took your gloves off and you slept in your clothes. Once I literally got stuck to the deck and had to be prised off by other crew.

“The escort carriers were top-heavy and pitched and rolled dreadfully and there were always U-boats lurking about. We were torpedoed once, but luckily it missed us.”