Posted: August 2nd, 2020
We are very sad to report the death on July 30 of JIMMY BAYNES, six weeks short of his 97th birthday. This is from Mirror Pensioner, autumn 2015.
“Jimmy Baynes is a war hero. Official.
The ex-chairman of the Mirror Graphics Chapel (compositors, readers and Linotype operators) is the holder of the 1939-45 Star, Arctic Star, Africa Star, Defence Medal, War Medal, the Commemorative Malta 50th Anniversary Medal, and Arctic Convoy Anniversary Medals.
And last year he was one of a number of veterans from across the world to be honoured for his bravery and courage in World War Two when he was awarded the prestigious Ushakov Medal, pictured, a State decoration of the Russian Federation.
Jimmy, right, will 92 by the time this newsletter is published.
A loyal supporter of AMP since its inception, he was born in East Ham, London, and left school at 14 to begin a seven-year apprenticeship in the printing industry.
In 1942 he went to HMS Collingwood as a signalman. He recalls:
“I was drafted immediately to the Middle East and joined Erica, a Flower Class corvette based in Alexandria.
“We were part of the Second Escort Group based along the North African coast in support of Monty and the Desert Rats.
“In February 1943 we were bringing a convoy from Benghazi to Alex when we struck a mine. One enormous explosion, Erica sank and I suffered severe burns. I was later flown to the 63rd General Hospital in Cairo.
“There were beautiful beds that didn’t roll about, beautiful clean sheets and beautiful nurses.
“I marvel at the sea and the power of nature, far superior to man. The sea is a battleground like no other. There may be mayhem, death and destruction on land and the aftermath is there for all to see.
“But this is not so in our operations.
“Be it a small corvette of a thousand tons, or the Bismark, the sea clinically cleans up the wreckage and the scene reverts to normal.”
And Jimmy proudly remembers:
“Last September, I was invited to a ceremony at the Russian Embassy in London where Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko presented me with the Ushakov Medal.
“It was an occasion I will never forget. I’m sure those present found it to be a personal, intimate reminder of the events of 70 years ago.
“The Embassy provided a beautiful setting and the staff were extremely kind and helpful. In a way it seemed that the final piece of the jigsaw had been placed. It is so sad that many of our shipmates were not around to share this wonderful experience.
“I will treasure my medal as a gesture of friendship and a special token uniting a band of special people.”
For more background, go to: www.russionarcticconvoymuseum.co.uk
By PETER THOMPSON
© Peter Thompson 2021. Extracted from Cudlipp’s Circus by Peter Thompson, Kindle Edition.
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