AN ARCTIC Convoys veteran who fought to win recognition for his fellow heroes has died – days before he would have worn his medal in public for the first time.
Jock Dempster, 85, from Dunbar in East Lothian, passed away on Sunday morning after suffering a stroke.
This week he had been due to travel to Wester Ross in the Highlands for a number of events to mark Arctic Convoys Week, where he would have proudly sported the medal in public for the first time.
Mr Dempster received his medal from Prime Minister David Cameron just two months ago, after a decades-long campaign.
He had also planned to wear the medal during the traditional remembrance commemorations in November at the Cenotaph.
Mr Dempster, who celebrated his 85th birthday last week, made two convoy trips to Murmansk, Russia in 1944 when he was only 16 and had campaigned tirelessly for veterans to receive official recognition for their sacrifices during the Arctic Convoy campaigns.
Mr Dempster had been married to wife, Maggie, for 35 years.
Mrs Dempster said that since suffering the stroke eight days ago her husband had “struggled heroically” with what was the “biggest battle he ever fought.”
He died at around 9.15am on Sunday after suffering respiratory failure.
Mrs Dempster said: “I will remember him as a remarkable man who has not lived one life, but three.
“He had three careers and was very well respected in all of them.
“He was also a good Samaritan and a good friend. He looked after me extremely well.
“He wouldn’t let the wind blow the wrong way if he could help it while I was about. He knew my thoughts before I knew them. I will miss him terribly.”
A former head of Scotland’s own Russian Arctic Convoys Club, Mr Dempster was presented with his medal by David Cameron at Downing Street in March.
After it was announced in December that the veterans would finally be honoured with a medal, he said it “meant everything.”
While awarding the Arctic Star medals the prime minister has singled Mr Dempster in his speech saying he had helped run an “extraordinary campaign.”
Speaking in February of this year, Mr Dempster said: “I was never frightened of death, I implicitly believed in the life thereafter.
What I was scared stiff of was the fact that I was on a tanker and I knew if we got hit, it would go on fire. I dreaded the thought of being hideously burnt or losing an arm or leg.”
A Downing Street spokesman said they were sorry to hear about Mr Dempster’s death.
He said: “We were sorry to hear about the death of Jock Dempster. He recently came into Downing Street to be presented with an Arctic Star medal by the Prime Minister, in recognition of the unique contribution he and others made protecting Britain.
“All those who served on the Arctic Convoy deserve nothing but the utmost respect and admiration from us.”
Mr Dempster set sail from Loch Ewe, in 1944 aboard the MV San Venancio as a deck hand.
After his experience in the convoys, he went on to become a fluent Russian as part of a role with the RAF, during the Cold War.