Veteran in Neath to receive Ushakov Medal from the Russian Embassy
A NEATH war veteran who was aboard a ship which sank off the coast of Russia is to receive a special medal.
John Jenkins, who is known as Jack, is to receive the Ushakov Medal from the Russian Embassy for his efforts during the Arctic Convoys, which saw Allied ships deliver vital equipment to the Soviet Union.
Mr Jenkins from Cimla, who turns 90 tomorrow, has already received the Arctic Star.
"I was surprised to receive a letter from the Embassy of the Russian Federation," he said.
"But I don't make a fuss of it really.
"I must be the only one in Neath."
Mr Jenkins, who is a former Neath town mayor and county councillor from the 1980's, spent 10 years in the Royal Navy.
"I joined the Navy at 15 because there was no work," he said.
"We had to train and I went for seamanship."
He said he first was aboard the HMS Valiant and travelled to Bermuda and Canada.
"We picked up around 500 men and brought them to England," he said.
It was in 1942 when he was aboard the HMS Edinburgh which sunk near Russia after being hit by two U-Boat torpedos.
"We were going to be there for Christmas so I remember we had Christmas dinner on December 16," he said.
"We had food in boxes to give to the poor and needy.
"We came on board the ship and they were painting the seal and the paint was on the snow, and someone said it was a bad omen.
"After it sunk we had to live in Russia for around six weeks.
"We had to walk six miles to the community feeding centre. We had pine needle soup.
"We were picked up by HMS Forester, a destroyer."
When he returned to Neath, he met his wife Audrey, and they have been married for nearly 66 years.
Mrs Jenkins, who recently turned 90, said they have got all his medals tucked away in a safe place.
"He has so many now I have lost count," she said. "We are just waiting now for his new one.
"I don't know where he is going to put them. He always goes to the Armistice ceremony each November."
The couple have two children, four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren and are looking forward to further birthday celebrations.