East Ham veteran Allan Florence’s joy at receiving medal

13:04 07 June 2014

Allan Florence, 90, with the Ushakov Medal that he was recently awarded

Allan Florence, 90, with the Ushakov Medal that he was recently awarded


Nearly 70 years after the end of the Second World War, British sailors who braved German attacks and bitter cold on Arctic convoys have been honoured. Here we tell the stories of two east London heroes.

Allan Florence in uniformAllan Florence in uniform

Allan Florence, 90, from Hatherley Gardens, in East Ham served on board HMS Activity when it played its part in the Arctic Convoys.

Although he can remember very little, due to suffering from Alzheimer’s, Allan’s son James said he was “very excited” at receiving the Ushakov Medal.

He said: “He is very pleased and has been showing it to everyone.”

James remembers his father telling him how he cycled with friends to a recruiting office in Epping to sign up.

James said: “One of the stories he has told us about was when he was on leave at home in East Ham. They were in an air raid shelter when they heard all the roof slates coming off the roof.

“The house was on fire, so he ran upstairs to put it out with a bucket full of earth. It was the bedclothes that were alight. Then the air raid warden joined in and pushed down on everything so hard that it fell through the floor to the dining room and kitchen.

“His mother, my nan, was absolutely fuming because it burnt the carpet downstairs. She was really upset because she was so house-proud.”

Another story Allan told James was about docking in Russia: “He said, when they were let off the ship in Russia, they scrambled up to some fences and looked through them. They saw a noose and then they saw all these rifles pointing towards them, so they scarpered back to the ship and made sure they never went off it again.”

Nick Hewitt, naval historian at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, said HMS Activity was an escort carrier which served as a platform for aircraft which tackled German U-boats and submarines. Although the ship only served on the Arctic convoys for a short spell, she did escort one convoy in which her aircraft sank several U-boats.

Latest News Stories

Police are appealing for the man to get in touch

A man who was assaulted at West Ham train station is being urged to come forward to police.

British Transport Police
The NewVIc award winners (picture: Jonathan Szymanski)

High-achieving students were rewarded for their successes at NewVIc’s annual awards evening.

Detailed plans for the proposed Silvertown Tunnel have been released (image: TfL)

The final consultation has begun into the proposed Silvertown Tunnel.

Green Party
East Ham Town Hall

A consultation on plans which aim to give Newham Council the power to ban boy racers in the south of the borough is due to end this week.

Newham Council

Most read news


You could be splashing the cash at Topshop!

Just imagine what you could do with £1,000 to spend at Topshop.

Read more
You won't need to fork out for groceries for a while!

Asda, one of the country’s leading supermarkets, prides itself in being one of the cheapest places to shop, so you can be sure that your money will go a long way here!

Read more

Digital Edition

Read the Newham Recorder e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder