Steyning widow sent husband’s medal after 70 years

JPCT 011013 S13391599x Peggy Weeks, Steyning. Arctic Star medal - photo  by Steve Cobb
JPCT 011013 S13391599x Peggy Weeks, Steyning. Arctic Star medal - photo by Steve Cobb

A widow from Steyning has received a medal on behalf of her husband 70 years after his heroic efforts above the Arctic Circle during World War Two.

Mrs Peggy Weeks was sent an Arctic Star last week in recognition of Lieutenant Arthur Weeks’ involvement in the Royal Navy serving in the Russian Convoy between 1941 and 1946.

The 87-year-old explained: “I feel rather proud because they went through so much.

“But what’s so awful is that they had to wait so long for it to be granted as nearly all of the men working in the Navy wouldn’t be alive now.”

Before he was called to war, Mr Weeks taught science and gardening at the Storrington council senior school, now called Rydon Community College, when it opened on June 3, 1940, and returned after his service up until his death in 1974, aged 64.

“During the War, the headmaster of the school got the pupils to write to him in the Navy and of course many of those pupils are grown men and women now who would remember him,” added Mrs Weeks, from Shooting Fields.

“In 1947 I had qualified as a teacher and went to the school. That is where we met, fell in love, married and years later we had five children.”

When it was announced nationally in 2012 that the medal would be given, Mrs Weeks filled out various forms and put together an album of her husband’s time in the Navy which included photographs of him clearing snow off the deck of an aircraft carrier in sub-zero temperatures.

During his service, Mr Weeks - who started as a seaman and subsequently was promoted to Lieutenant and Sub-lieutenant - was responsible for the radar on aircraft carriers during action as well as coaching young officers in English and maths when not in action. The efforts of all those who took part, perilously ensuring vital food and arms supplies reached Russian shores, are widely recognised as helping Russia’s war effort and significantly shortening the war.

“They said more men died up there through the cold than in the action,” added Mrs Weeks, who went on to teach at Steyning Grammar School.

“My husband also got the Atlantic Star and Pacific Star because he went all over the world and ended up in China.”

When referring to what she felt her husband would have said about receiving the award, Mrs Weeks said: “He’d say it’s about time, that’s what his response would be for sure. He used to think it wasn’t important enough but he’d be relieved and thankful that he’d received it.”