Arctic convoy hero marks 100th birthday

12:30 04 May 2014

Four generations of the Cobley family. Lt Cdr Kenneth William Cobley is sat in the centre.

Four generations of the Cobley family. Lt Cdr Kenneth William Cobley is sat in the centre.

Archant

A World War Two veteran who took part in a military operation described by Winston Churchill as ‘the worst journey in the world’ has celebrated his 100th birthday.

HMS Duke of York in March 1942 whilst escorting an Arctic ConvoyHMS Duke of York in March 1942 whilst escorting an Arctic Convoy

Lieutenant-Commander Kenneth William Cobley, who lives in Ottery St Mary, marked the milestone on April 24 with a birthday lunch, a card from The Queen and a get-together with three generations of family in Metcombe.

Lt Cdr Cobley saw action in the freezing waters north of the Arctic Circle between 1943 and 1945 as a gunnery officer on the battleship HMS Duke of York.

And for his part in ensuring vital supplies reached Russia, he was decorated with the Arctic Star in August last year – a medal introduced at the start of 2013 to recognise sailors who had been part of the treacherous convoys.

“Because he was a gunnery officer his hearing is quite bad now,” said Lt Cdr Cobley’s nephew, Jim Cobley. “But his eyesight is unbelievable – he can spot boats on the horizon off Sidmouth that I struggle to see, even with my glasses on.

Members of Duke of York's gun crews after the battleMembers of Duke of York's gun crews after the battle

“It was remarkable what these men went through - they have some amazing stories to tell.”

The Duke of York was the flagship of a fleet tasked with supporting supply convoys between Iceland and the Soviet Union, and although the fleet was spared the worst of air attacks, it was under constant threat from submarines.

Sailors had to endure sub-zero conditions, rough seas and just an hour or two of daylight each day.

In December 1943, the fleet, which was already suffering heavy losses from U-boat attacks, came under additional threat from the German battlecruiser Scharnhorst.

The German cruiser had set sail to sink allied supply ships, but was intercepted by the British fleet on December 26, damaged by the Duke of York’s guns and finally destroyed by torpedoes.

For his part in directing the gunfire during the three-hour battle, Lt Cdr Cobley was decorated with the Distinguished Service Cross by King George VI.

Lt Cdr Cobley retired from the Navy in 1959 before moving to West Hill. He now splits his time between a home in Ottery and a flat in Sidmouth.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Sidmouth Herald visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Sidmouth Herald staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Sidmouth Herald account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Other News Stories

Angry residents are forming an action group to fight yet another development proposal in ‘a house building frenzy’ - that they say is threatening Ottery.

Read more

Baby Cow Productions, Steve Coogan’s production company, is in town today filming scenes for a sitcom.

Read more
A widening crack in the cliffs over the River Sid at the Ham

A hairline crack in a crumbling section of Sidmouth’s cliffs has grown to several inches over the last year – but County Hall chiefs say intervention risks accelerating the erosion.

Read more
The former SES shop on Sidmouth High Street. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 9086-02-14SH. To order your copy of this photograph go to www.sidmouthherald.co.uk

A businessman, eager to make the ‘eyesore’ SES premises a building Sidmouth can be proud of, says he is still battling district chiefs – a year after he bought it.

Read more
The Red Arrows at Sidmouth. Ref shs 2900-35-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife

The Red Arrows have been saluted for offering to reduce their fee after bad weather stopped them from performing a full display.

Read more
Yesterday, 13:04

Opportunist thieves were targeted by police during a three-day festival in Escot Park at the weekend.

Read more
Yesterday, 11:01
Himalayan Balsam

Organisers behind an effort to clear the River Sid of an invasive weed have warned it will take years to solve the problem unless more people lend a hand.

Read more
Yesterday, 06:34

A recent spate of burglaries has prompted a police appeal for witnesses, or anyone who has been offered stolen goods, to come forward.

Read more
Sunday, August 30, 2015
Ian West completed the gruelling Tough Mudder challenge to raise £1030 for CLIC Sargent

A man who has battled cancer – and lost his brother to leukaemia - undertook a gruelling 10-mile obstacle course to raise £1,030 for a charity that supported him and his family.

Read more
Sunday, August 30, 2015
Trustee member Adrian Ford and chairman Rachel Johnstone presented flowers to June Waters on her last day as a volunteer at the Sid Valley Memory Cafe.

A widow has backed the Sid Valley Memory Café’s Admiral Nurse Campaign after marrying twice and seeing both husbands suffer from dementia.

Read more

Local Weather

Sunny

Sunny

max temp: 17°C

min temp: 10°C

Most Read News

Great British Life


Great British Life

Family notices
Advertise in the paper
Submit a Story
Submit a Story
Buy Photos
Competitions
iwitness24
Facebook
Twitter
Google Plus Page
Reader Travel

Family Notices 24

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Sidmouth Herald e-edition today E-edition


Devon's trusted business finder