At the Annual Convocation of the Provincial Grand Chapter of Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire, the ME Grand Superintendent, E Comp Wayne Williams, had a surprise up his sleeve for the eldest companion present
This was 92 years old E Comp Frederick (Vic) Bashford, a member of St Ivo Chapter No. 2684, Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire Chapter of First Principals No. 3422 and Ailwyn Chapter No. 3535, who is one of the few surviving WWII veterans who were recently awarded the Arctic Star campaign medal.
During the Second World Cpl Vic Bashford, as a young Royal Air Force Electrical Fitter, was involved in Force Benedict, a secret mission to protect the northern Russia port of Murmansk, that was a crucial lifeline to the Soviets. The aircraft, the first 39 of nearly 3,000 Hurricanes supplied, were transported in August 1941 by the Aircraft Carrier HMS Argos and SS Llanstephen Castle in the first Arctic convoy between the UK and Russia.
Throughout the War 104 merchant ships and 20 Royal Navy ships were lost in the Arctic Convoy duties but fortunately, E Comp Bashford survived this ordeal and was able to be present at the meeting and enjoy the presentation by the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent of his Certificate of Meritorious Service for unstinting service over many years to the Holy Royal Arch.