Ribble Valley wartime 'star' dies after Arctic accolade

A RIBBLE Valley man who was given the Arctic Star last month has died.

Ordinary Seaman John Huckle, 89, worked to counter German ships poised to threaten the Arctic Convoys during World War Two.

Mr Huckle, who lived for many years near Slaidburn, was awarded the Arctic Star to mark his work on the HMS King George V, flagship of the Home Fleet based at Scapa Flow.

Mr Huckle, who served as a warden at Samlesbury Hall in the 1970s, joined the HMS Calder as an anti-submarine control officer following officer training.

He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross after the destruction of U1051 off Anglesey in January 1945 and earned a Bar after helping to sink the U774 off south west Ireland.

After ending his wartime naval service in September 1946, he spent three years with the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey in Antarctica as an assistant surveyor and took two major sledge journeys down the King George VI Sound, assisting in survey work for which he was awarded the Polar Medal. Mount Huckle in the Douglas Range on Alexander Island is named after him.

He was sent to Port Lockroy in January 1947 as the Governor of the Falkland Islands’ aide de camp.

The voyage was supposed to last a month, but after a fire at one base and a tsunami wrecking another hut, he spent three years in the Antarctic with only a Falkland Islander and a dog for company.

While there he made history by making the first official protest against Argentinian involvement near British territory.

Godfrey Holden, membership secretary of the British Antarctic Survey Club, said: “He was a very fine man and no one ever had a bad word to say about him. His passing has been marked by the club and has left sadness as an end of an era.

“He was a genuine pioneer of early expeditions to the Arctic and took part in some of the first major tips since the golden age of Captain Scott.

“He was well respected and liked and he shall be missed. John was one of our longest standing members and was an inspiration to many.”

Mr Huckle died at home in Monmouth on December 9 and his funeral was held in the Forest of Dean yesterday.

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