Proms performance to honour war dead
2:30pm Monday 26th August 2013 in News
A 92-year-old veteran of World War Two’s Arctic Convoys will be saluting his fallen friends as a military march is played at the Last Night of the Proms next week.
John Farrow of Tenby, believed to be the last surviving sailor from HMS Trinidad, will be listening intently as the UK premiere of the ship’s official march is aired by the BBC Symphony Orchestra on Saturday September 7th.
The rousing tune was composed by George Lloyd, whose centenary is being celebrated this year, and who was on board the HMS Trinidad with John when it torpedoed itself in 1942, with the loss of 32 lives.
Both survived, with John going on have another close brush with death when the Trinidad was bombed as she ploughed through Arctic waters on her return from repairs in Murmansk.
After the war, John, a native of Salford, brought his family to Tenby where he worked as a French polisher and cabinet maker and rarely spoke of his service on the convoys, which made what Churchill called ‘the journey from hell’ in a bid to keep open supply lines to Soviet ports.
But his memories have been awakened by his membership of the Russian Convoy Veterans Association, and he was one of 39 veterans who recently attended a reunion in Scotland where they were presented with their Arctic Star medals.
“Looking back to the war, I was very lucky,” admitted John, who was a gunner on lookout when he saw the deadly torpedo returning to the side of the HMS Trinidad. “I remember the captain saying ‘that looks familiar’ and then the torpedo hit the side of the ship.
“The sea was getting nearer and I thought that was the end, but strangely, I wasn’t frightened. I knew somehow that the ship would get back on a level keel, and even though there was a hole in her side wide enough for two buses, that’s what happened.
“But it was certain death for the men who were below the waterline. Many of them drowned in oil and it was not a pleasant task having to recover their bodies.”
John is delighted that the memory of the 8,000 sailors who served on the Arctic Convoys is being kept alive by the veterans’ association and the premiere of the HMS Trinidad March.
“I’ve recently heard the music again, for the first time in 70 years and it’s a fantastic piece, a typical military march,” he said. “Just like the Arctic Star medal, it’s a real tribute to my shipmates.”
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