Lord West presents Arctic Star to family of local naval hero
Admiral the Lord West of Spithead took time out from his role as Chancellor, presiding over the graduation ceremonies at Southampton Solent University, to present an Arctic Star medal to the family of Southampton born World War II veteran sailor William Jeffries.
Receiving the medal from Lord West, cousins Christina Barnard and Betty Sykes are both nieces of William Jeffries and are originally also from Shirley.
“I am honoured to be able to present this medal to you today in recognition of the courage, perseverance and bravery of your uncle,” said Lord West as he presented the Arctic Star, “Having served in the Arctic myself I know first-hand of the punishing conditions naval crews experience. I am very familiar with the long campaign to have these medals awarded to Arctic campaign veterans from the Second World War, and I am pleased that after 70 years his outstanding bravery and service to the country has been marked in this way.”
William Jeffries was born in Shirley, Southampton in 1911 and was mobilised in 1941 as a stoker mechanic. He trained at HMS Royal Arthur, Skegness and went on to train in fire-fighting at HMS Raven at Eastleigh airport before being drafted on to HMS Daedalus.
On hearing of the death in action in the Western Desert of his close friend George James, who had been called up at the same time by the Army, William volunteered for ‘sea-going action duty’ in 1942. He lost his life in an accident at Scapa Flow on 1 January 1944 while serving on HMS Impulsive, a destroyer serving in the Western Approaches. The vessel served with distinction in the North Atlantic and on Arctic Convoy duties, activities that were particularly hazardous in freezing conditions. William is buried in Lyness Naval Cemetery, Orkney Isles.
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Southampton Solent University offers more than 23,000 students over 200 qualifications ranging from HND to PhD, in subjects such as maritime education and training, fashion and design, media and television, music, health, sport and leisure, business, IT and technology. The University was awarded the 2013 Quality Assurance kitemark for quality and standards of teaching and learning. Solent was voted one of the most creative universities in the UK in a Which? University 2013 poll of students. Solent Business School has been awarded the Small Business Charter Award, which is supported by the Association of Business Schools and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and ‘gold approval’ by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).