South Yorkshire WWII Arctic Convoys hero dies aged 91

Ken Burkinshaw
Ken Burkinshaw
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A South Yorkshire war hero who served in the Arctic seas during one of the greatest feats of the Second World War has died aged 91.

Ken Burkinshaw, of Barnsley, was just 16 years old when he served on board HMS Sheffield and delivered much-needed resources to the Russian allies nine times.

More than 3,000 men died during the Arctic Convoys maritime campaign from 1941 to 1945 as they battled temperatures as low as minus 40C.

Former Chief Petty Officer Ken, of Cherry Tree Street, Hoyland, received a number of military honours for his service including the Arctic Star Medal from the British Government and the Ushakov Medal from the Russian Government.

In his later life, Ken continued to serve his community both as a football referee and as President of the Hoyland branch of the Royal British Legion. He was always a familiar face at the annual Remembrance Sunday service in Hoyland.

Barnsley East MP Michael Dugher said: “I was proud to know Ken and to count him as a friend. The service and sacrifice that marked his highly decorated time in the Royal Navy during the Second World War was still in evidence in how he conducted himself as President of the Royal British Legion in Hoyland.

“Ken was a man of so many talents, going on to have a distinguished career in football, and he remained a fantastic role model for our young people. Ken Burkinshaw was a true Barnsley hero. It will be hard to picture Remembrance Sunday in Hoyland without him.

“He was an old fashioned, no-nonsense man, but he was also a real gentleman. It was a privilege to know him.”

Barnsley Council deputy leader Jim Andrews added: “Ken was a marvellous man, a pillar of the community and served this country excellently.”

During the Arctic Convoys campaign, merchant ships were escorted 1,500 to 2,000 miles in freezing weather conditions by the Royal Navy to take war material to the Soviet Union as the Allies fought Nazi Germany.

Ken died on Sunday. Details of his funeral service are yet to be finalised.