I don’t know why she loved it so much, but it really touched her.
The song begins, “When I first held you I was cold.” Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but perhaps it made her think of my dad and his time on the Russian Convoys on the heavy cruiser HMS Kent.
This photograph of him was taken around that time. He would have been in his early 20s. The same age as my youngest son now.
Sometime during this last horrible week I watched a BBC programme about the veterans of the convoys going on a trip to Russia. They really are forgotten heroes. I know my dad used to freeze to his gun, that a hot drink would freeze in the mug before he could drink it, that he had to watch ships going down and countless men dying in those awful icy waters.
Churchill called them suicide missions and the most dangerous of the war. Without those convoys, the outcome of the war could and probably would have been very different.
Here’s another photo from the time. I don’t know who the men are in it.
I just can’t imagine what it must have been like, the unrelenting cold, the knowledge that at any moment they could come under attack from the air or the sea. I can’t imagine it and my dad never spoke of it. All I know is what my mum told me.
The Russians awarded a medal to the men who served on the convoys. What did we give them? Well eventually, after more than 60 years, they were given the Arctic Emblem, a tiny little star, but no medal.
In January this year, David Cameron said that the veterans should receive medals. They endured “Incredibly harsh conditions.” You don’t say? But he’s changed his mind. They’ve already been recognised with the Atlantic Star apparently and that will do. No matter that 95% of the men who went on to serve on the convoys had already earned their Atlantic Star.
And in his election campaign, Cameron promised to order the Tories to introduce an Arctic medal if they came to power. So much for promises. Good job the sailors didn't turn round in 1941 and say "No thanks, we've already done our bit in the Atlantic."
I know they didn't do what they did for medals or recognition or glory - they did it because they had to. Would it really be so difficult to finally thank them properly?
There are about 200 veterans of the Arctic campaign left. My dad is not one of them. Today is the 36th anniversary of his death and I wanted to write this blog in memory of him.
There is a petition on the government website to give the veterans the medal they deserve. So far it has attracted fewer than 700 signatures. It seems a shame.
If anyone would like to sign, here’s the link to the petition.