Widow wins battle for Arctic Star

Margaret Heley with the Arctic Star awarded to her late husband Geoff.
Margaret Heley with the Arctic Star awarded to her late husband Geoff.
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A widow who has endured a long battle for the Arctic Star in memory of her Royal Marine husband is “over the moon” to have received the medal..

Margaret Heley, 82, of Moorlands Drive, Wheatley, Halifax, is determined to get the award for World War 2 serviceman Geoff whose British ship on Russian convoy survived a torpedo attack.

Mr Heley, who died 20-years-ago, joined the marines when he was 17 but was returned home at his father’s request. On his 18th birthday, Geoff left Halifax for Portsmouth to fulfil his marine dream.

As a young man in his 20’s, Mr Heley was lucky to survive the Italian attack on his submarine which killed crew mates on HMS Nigeria on Operation Pedestal - transporting food to Russia.

“Of nine ships on convoy, Geoff’s was the only one to make it through - that should be recognised officially.”

In 1987, the former Petty Officer was awarded the Murmansk Convoy Medal by the Presidium of the Soviet of the USSR - celebrating 40 years of wartime victory.

Mr Heley was awarded The Malta George Cross Fiftieth Anniversary Medal by the President of Malta for service, in 1993.

“Telling him we couldn’t go in person to collect the medal was the hardest thing but he was unwell. It wasn’t long after that Geoff died from a blood disorder. Before he died he told me he wouldn’t have changed a thing.”

Mrs Heley first wrote to the Ministry Of Defence in April, 2013. “I was getting nowhere,” she said.

Mrs Heley contacted the Courier who contacted the MOD. It confirmed the medal was in the post. “I can’t believe it I’m over the moon,” she said.

In 1946, Mr Heley left the navy and went to work at Drakes, Halifax, where aged 33, he met a 21-year-old Margaret. The couple wed in 1952 and went on to have one daughter, Jill Britton, 51.