Isles veterans receive convoy service medals

Two Western Isles veterans of the Russian Convoys have recently received medals commemorating their service.

Four generations… Alexander Campbell, with his five medals, is pictured with son Malcolm Neil, grandson Neil and great grandson Alex Neil

Four generations… Alexander Campbell, with his five medals, is pictured with son Malcolm Neil, grandson Neil and great grandson Alex Neil

Harris man Donald Mackinnon was presented with the Ushakov Medal last month, while Alexander Campbell of Stornoway has been presented with five medals reflecting his service throughout the Second World War.

Mr Mackinnon of Moll na Faobhag now lives in Irvine and received the Ushakov medal from the Consul General of the Russian Federation at a ceremony in Glasgow in November. Last year he was presented with the Arctic Star, the UK Government’s long-awaited medal recognising the efforts of those involved in the convoys.

He joined the Royal Naval Reserve in 1939 and his ship HMS ‘Lapwing’, was used in the convoys before being torpedoed near Murmansk in March 1945. Donald was one of just 61 survivors, while 158 men were lost. His story is the subject of the book ‘Survival Against the Odds’ by Donald John Macleod.

As well as being highly decorated for his war service, Donald was also a champion swimmer and was the world record holder for the highest number of swimming medals, only giving up the sport in recent years.

Meanwhile, Alexander Campbell, known as Sandy Ingie, was presented with five campaign medals by the Lord Lieutenant of the Western Isles, Alexander Matheson, last Friday.

Mr Campbell served as an able seaman in the Merchant Navy, making numerous supply convoy voyages including several on the Russian routes.

Now aged 92, Mr Campbell suffers from dementia and attends the Solas Day Centre several times a week. He was joined there by family members to witness the presentation of the new Arctic Star as well as the 1939-45 Star, War Medal, an Atlantic Star with France and Germany Clasp and an Africa Star with Clasp.

Donald MacKinnon with his daughter Morag Wright

Donald MacKinnon with his daughter Morag Wright