A SECOND World War hero has been honoured with a posthumous medal after nearly 70 years.

Royal Navy veteran Victor Rothwell, who died aged 82 in 2002, fought in Russia, Argentina and Malta during more than a decade of service.

Now the Darwen seaman’s family has taken delivery of the Arctic Star, an honour only introduced last year for servicemen formerly stationed within the Arctic Circle.

Petty Officer Rothwell – who joined the Navy as a 15-year-old – nearly died on board HMS Exeter during the Battle of River Plate in 1939 and joined HMS Kenya for the Arctic Convoys of 1942.

His youngest son Phil, 60, and Phil’s wife Annette, 54, finally received the Arctic Star on Saturday after a year-long battle of their own to have his efforts recognised.

Mr Rothwell, of Pendle Drive, Blackburn, said: “We knew very little about my dad’s service until after he died because he rarely spoke about it.

“He would tell the odd story but nothing like the in-depth stuff we found on top of the wardrobe when he died.

“He was a keen photographer and took pictures all over the world. It’s amazing how he survived all the battles he did, from River Plate, Bismarck, to Operation Pedestal.”

Victor, whose other son Graham, 66, still lives at the family home in Park Road, Darwen, went on to work at Blackburn’s Royal Ordnance Factory after leaving the Navy in 1950.

Phil, who runs an upholstery firm in Lower Darwen, said he was thrilled to finally receive the Arctic Star in the post.

He said: “We read in the paper last year about how they were giving out medals for anyone who had served in the Arctic Convoys.

“The Navy, quite rightly, gave priority to those veterans still alive and then spouses of those veterans.

“After that, other relations like ourselves could apply and I had to send a host of evidence off to prove who my father was.

“I am so, so proud now.”