War hero Gerrard adds to his medals

Gerrard Paterson shows off the Ushakov Medal
Gerrard Paterson shows off the Ushakov Medal

A Mossend man was a guest of the Consul General of the Russian Federation at a ceremony in Glasgow City Chambers where he was presented with medals for his service during World War II.

Gerrard Paterson (98) received the Ushakov Medal for personal courage and valour during World War II while participating in the Arctic Convoys, and a commemorative medal for his service on the same Arctic Convoys.

All allied sailors who were on these missions were decorated with a medal to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War as, it was said, they deserved the same recognition as other veterans.

The Russian Consul organised the event to “pay tribute to those who defended our country and liberated Europe from Nazism in 1941-45.”

Gerrard also received a Limited Edition Anniversary Edition wristwatch which was specially made in Russia for the Arctic Convoy Veterans, presented by Andrey Pritsepv, who is Consul General of the Russian Federation.

It was a proud day for Gerrard who was accompanied to the event by his equally proud family - daughter Helena Patterson and sons Gerard and Michael.

He also has four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren and there is no shortage of stories to be told during visits to Gerrard, and they’re all true!

Gerrard, who was born in Warsaw in 1917, was called up to an anti-aircraft unit of the Polish Army.

His unit was ordered to cover the retreat the Polish Government when Germany attacked Poland in 1939. The unit split up and dispersed into Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Yugoslavia.

Gerrard and three friends were helped by the Underground Resistance Movement to travel to France where they joined the French army. Soon after Germany attacked France and Gerrard’s group were evacuated to Britain, rather than surrender to the Germans. They were stationed in a camp at Crawford.

Gerrard then joined the Royal Navy, serving as a chief petty officer on a British destroyer, renamed ORP Piorun, manned by an all Polish crew under Royal Navy command. He has been given a Polish coin with face value of two zloty, showing ORP Piorun and is worth everything to Gerrard.

His ship was one which famously detected, and kept tracks on, the mighty German battleship Bismarck after contact was lost with it and Winston Churchill had issued the order to ‘sink the Bismarck’.

Despite being under fire, they kept Bismarck in their sights and their information brought the Royal Navy to catch up and sink the German ship.

The Piorun travelled the greatest distance of any ship involved in the Second World War and the hell run of the Arctic convoys was described by Churchill as the “worst journey in the world”. Last year he was awarded the Arctic Star medal by the British government for this action.

During the war years, Gerrard married in Coatbridge and worked in Clyde Alloy in Craigneuk.

His latest awards now join the other nine medals he has already received for various campaigns and actions when serving on the ORP Piorun.