FINALLY after waiting over 70 years Rowley Regis a World War II veteran of the treacherous Arctic Convoys has had his heroics officially recognised.

At a special ceremony today 89-year-old Joseph Jones was awarded the Arctic Star medal for risking his life on the infamous convoys to and from Russia.

Joseph volunteered for the Navy when he turned 18-years-old and was an able seaman on board HMS Matchless.

He saw action across Europe including surviving heavy bombing in Malta which he described as “hell on earth”.

However, only now, after decades of Government procrastination veterans of the Arctic Convoys have been honoured with their own medal and Joseph was presented with his today.

Dignitaries from the Royal British Legion and Sandwell Council joined friends and family at ceremony at the Age UK Day Centre he attends every week in West Bromwich.

And the star of the show revelled in his big day telling a raft of stories about his time at war but became emotional when discussing his comrades.

He said: “This is the end of a long journey for me to get this medal. It has taken over 70 years for us to get them and it is so sad so many men died before they had the chance of getting a medal.”

The conditions were so cold on the Arctic Convoys that when Joseph once tried to fire his anti-aircraft gun at oncoming German planes the trigger had frozen leaving him unable to return fire.

He was also on board when his ship was involved in the famous Battle of The North Cape which resulted in the sinking of German battlecruiser The Scharnhorst.

Joseph was one of the few people who saw the giant ship seconds before it capsized and sank and even managed to save one of the handful of German survivors of the 2,000 plus crew.

He said: “I saw these Germans floating near the boat and dashed down the stairs and one of them was by the ship, he had his hand on the rail, I put my hand out and helped him on board.”

The former Royal Navy man spoke movingly how due to orders HMS Matchless had to leave hundreds of German sailors to perish in the sea. Over 3,000 men lost their lives on the convoys delivering supplies to the Russians during what Winston Churchill described as “the worst journey in the world.”

Despite the constant danger from the elements and the enemy Joseph did not complain about the conditions he endured.

“It was my fault (I was there) because I had volunteered to fight, I wanted to fight for king and country, no-one was going to stop me,” he said.

The veteran, who grew up in Old Hill but later moved to Rowley Regis, was delighted to finally get his hands on an Arctic Star which veterans have been demanding for years.

Joseph’s only son Graham, aged 63, said: “This is a wonderful day for many reasons, especially because how long it has taken to happen. Dad is great character and still gets around a bit, he can remember the war like it was yesterday, and he has plenty of stories to tell.” Mayor of Sandwell Councillor Keith Davies, whose uncle also served on the Arctic Convoys, presented Joseph with his medal.

Cllr Davies said: "I feel proud and honoured to present this medal to Mr Jones, who with thousands of others, put his life on the line for the Arctic convoys during the Second World War.

“We must never forget the brave people who have served for our country."