Russia honours Irish war veteran

 

AN IRISH veteran of the Arctic convoys which helped supply the Soviet Union during the second World War was yesterday honoured by the Russian people when he was presented with the 65th Anniversary Medal of the Great Patriotic War.

John Hallahan from Mercier Park in Cork city joined the Royal Navy at a recruiting office at Haulbowline in 1939, months before the war began, and he spent the next six years on the heavy cruiser, HMS Devonshire.

Now 93, Mr Hallahan was allowed out of hospital for a few hours to attend yesterday’s ceremony at Cork City Hall, hosted by Lord Mayor Cllr Dara Murphy, where he was presented with the medal by the consul at the Russian embassy, Andrei Nikeryasov.

Mr Hallahan’s daughter, Claire McGeough, said her father, who is just one of three veterans of the Arctic convoys alive in the Republic, was hugely honoured to receive such an award from the Russian people for his role in bringing supplies to Murmansk and Archangel.

Mr Hallahan was accompanied yesterday by his wife Peggy, his son Tony with wife Jackie and son Christian, and Ms McGeough, her husband Frank and their children Aisling, Conal, Roisin and Dara.

Mr Nikeryasov, accompanied by assistant to the military attaché Lt Col Alexander Kuznetsov, said it was thanks to people such as Mr Hallahan and fellow Royal Navy veterans Ted Jones and George Metcalfe from Dublin that the Soviet Union had survived.

“We owe them a huge debt – it was thanks to them and their comrades that the Soviet Union was able to get food and medicines and weapons from our allies in Britain and the United States, which helped thousands survive and contributed to the victory over the Nazis,” he said.