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L-R Lt Cdr Andy Drodge, Capt Chris Smith and David Whittick
David Whittick and family

835 Squadron veteran receives Arctic Star

Published: 28 Nov 2013

For David Whittick, now 88 years old, was part of 835 Naval Air Squadron, which undertook aerial cover duties from aircraft carrier HMS Nairana for the ships involved in the most perilous sea passages of the conflict – the Arctic Convoys.

Presented with his Arctic Star by the Naval Regional Commander Scotland and Northern Ireland, Captain Chris Smith, and Commanding Officer of HMS Gannet, Lieutenant Commander Andy Drodge, David was accompanied by his sons Peter and Patrick and two daughters Sally and Linden for the special occasion.

David’s wife of 67 years, Joyce, was also at his side for the presentation.

David was born in Kotagiri, Coimbatore in Southern India in 1925 and returned to Britain at the age of seven, attending George Heriot’s School in Edinburgh. Captain Smith said,

“It was an honour and a pleasure to meet David and his son Peter.

“The journeys undertaken by the men and their ships as part of the Arctic Convoys was fraught with danger, as was the provision of aerial cover to the convoys.

“As well as an ever present threat of enemy fire from both surface ships and U-Boats, the weather was a formidable adversary, casting up freezing conditions and mountainous seas.

“Many, many ships and aircraft were lost and thousands of sailors perished.

“It was war at its harshest and David and his fellow sailors and aviators deserve the respect and admiration of us all for this most dangerous of missions which played a key role in the ultimate defence of our nation; we owe them all a great debt of thanks.”

The two officers made the presentation at David’s home in Bearsden.

Proud to welcome them to his house, he said,

"It was a great surprise and pleasure to be presented with my Arctic Star by Lt Cdr Andy Drodge and Capt Chris Smith.”

Son Peter, who made the approach to the navy and co-ordinated the surprise said,

"Our family was delighted and extremely proud  to see my father presented with his Arctic Star.

“Many thanks to all the Royal Navy staff involved for making this such a special day. The fact we managed to make it a complete surprise really added to the occasion.”

David joined the Fleet Air Arm as a young man at 17 years of age.

He was sent to Canada for flight training on Tiger Moths then Harvards.

He returned to the UK and flew the Swordfish (835 Naval Air Squadron) from HMS Nairana.

He completed a number of Arctic Convoys – described by Sir Winston Churchill as ‘the worst journey in the world’ – to Murmansk and Archangel, now more commonly known as Arkhangelsk.

David also flew Sea Otters, Airspeed Oxfords, Avro Ansons and DH60s.

Leaving the Royal Navy after the war as a Sub Lieutenant, David joined Scottish Airways which then became BEA and then BA.

He flew Rapides, Dakotas, Jupiter J52s (confiscated German Junkers), Viscounts, Tridents then Tristars retiring from British Airways in 1980 after 34 years.

After retiring from flying, David worked tirelessly as a volunteer for riding for the disabled. This work culminated in the establishment of a purpose built riding arena in Summerston, Glasgow.

In 1995 David was awarded an MBE for his charity work.

More about David’s experiences during the war can be found at:


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