Veterans from Wiltshire who braved sub-zero temperatures during the Second World War were honoured by Russia at a special presentation ceremony in Trowbridge to recognise their bravery during the conflict.

The Russian Embassy invited local residents who had already received the Arctic Convoy Star Medal from the Ministry of Defence to come along to a presentation ceremony at County Hall and receive the Medal of Ushakov.

A representative of the Russian Embassy, Alexander Kramarenko, Minister-Counsellor, also attended to say a few heartfelt words of thanks to the men.

Addressing the men, Mr Kramarenko said: “It is a huge privilege for me to present to you the Ushakov medals on behalf of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.

“It is a very modest measure for the valuable contribution you made in World War Two as part of our allied effort to defeat Nazi Germany. It is highly symbolic, for our naval servicemen were awarded this medal during the war.”

The Arctic Convoy ships of the Royal and Merchant navies made repeated perilous journeys to ensure vital supplies of both arms and food supplies reached Russian shores.

Many lost their lives to the attentions of Axis aircraft, ships and submarines but their efforts are widely recognised as helping Russia’s war effort and significantly shortening the entire war.

The Medal of Ushakov is awarded to soldiers and sailors for bravery and courage displayed while risking their lives to defend the Russian Federation.

Mike Jackson, 89, from Marlborough, served as a watch keeper in two destroyers; HMS Savage and HMS Cassandra, which was torpedoed in December 1944.

He said: “I was near the rear of the ship; I didn’t know a lot about it - 62 men were killed and many injured.

"Our water tight doors helped us to keep afloat and we were towed to Russia. I was back home on my parents' doorstep on Christmas Eve 1944.

“I am very touched to be given this medal."