Baffled Russians mix-up medals intended for Cromer war veteran

John Hewitt Bolton-Maggs receiving his Ushakov Medal from Jenny Clark whose dad, Jack Hewitt, was gi

John Hewitt Bolton-Maggs receiving his Ushakov Medal from Jenny Clark whose dad, Jack Hewitt, was given it by mistake.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Determined sleuthing, an EDP story and a 280-mile journey has meant a Norfolk war veteran has finally received an honour after a medals mix-up by baffled Russians.

John pictured during his service days.

John pictured during his service days. - Credit: Archant

Officials at the Russian Embassy in London were not familiar with double-barrelled surnames, according to a spokeswoman, so they accidently presented a Ushakov Medal intended for Cromer man John Hewitt Bolton-Maggs to fellow Second World War hero Jack Hewitt, 90, from Christchurch, in Dorset.

The medals are being awarded by a grateful Russian government to about 3,300 British service personnel involved in Arctic Convoys or who had received the Arctic Star.

Jenny Clark, Jack Hewitt's daughter, went to collect her dad's Ushakov Medal from the embassy in February, spotted the words 'Bolton-Maggs' on the accompanying documentation, and asked what they meant.

'They said they didn't know, but nothing could be done. I didn't realise it was a surname - I thought it might be something to do with the Navy,' said Mrs Clark, from Eastcote, near Ruislip.

John Hewitt Bolton-Maggs' Ushakov Medal.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

John Hewitt Bolton-Maggs' Ushakov Medal.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant


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Meanwhile Arctic Star holder Mr Bolton-Maggs, got a Russian 70th anniversary commemorative medal through the post. 'It didn't look quite right, but naturally I assumed that this was the Ushakov Medal,' said Mr Bolton-Maggs, 95.

But when Mrs Clark's puzzled husband Robert put 'Bolton-Maggs' into the internet about a month ago, it brought up an EDP story from 2013 when Mr Bolton-Maggs received his Arctic Star.

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Mrs Clark contacted the reporter who had written it and was soon in touch with Mr Bolton-Maggs, now living in the Royal British Legion's Halsey House care home.

The Clarks travelled to Cromer to hand over the medal to its rightful owner.

John Hewitt Bolton-Maggs with his Ushakov Medal.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

John Hewitt Bolton-Maggs with his Ushakov Medal.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

'We wanted to do it in person because these men went through so much in the war,' said Mrs Clark.

After discovering the truth, she contacted the Russian Embassy who realised their mistake and she made a second trip to collect her dad's Ushakov Medal.

Lisa Vokorina, third secretary at the embassy, said: 'I would like to apologise for this very embarrassing mistake. Double surnames do not happen in Russia.'

Have you got an unusual Norfolk story? Contact alex.hurrell@archant.co.uk

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