Royal Marine awarded with Arctic Star has tale to tell at Royal Norfolk Show

Len Bloomfield with retired colour sergeant Jamie McDonald from Lowestoft. Picture: Bill Smith

Len Bloomfield with retired colour sergeant Jamie McDonald from Lowestoft. Picture: Bill Smith - Credit: Bill Smith - Archant

For most of us, fierce naval battles fought across icy Norwegian waters in 1940 can only be imagined through black and white footage or well-thumbed history books.

For most of us, fierce naval battles fought across icy Norwegian waters in 1940 can only be imagined through black and white footage or well-thumbed history books.

But former Royal Marine Len Bloomfield is one of the few who can remember those courageous actions first-hand.

And now, more than 70 years after making history with his ship-mates in the battle of Narvik, the 91-year-old has finally been recognised with the award of his Arctic Star medal.

The D-Day veteran, from Beetley, near Dereham, was at the Royal Norfolk Show yesterday to talk to fellow veterans and to pass on his memories to visitors passing the Royal British Legion's stand.


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His Arctic Star brings his collection of campaign medals to six – a rare feat, and one which honours a military career which took him from the Arctic to the Mediterranean, and from the Far East to Australia between 1939 and 1951.

'I went to Buckingham Palace two years ago and I was greeted as 'five-star Len',' he said. 'Now I'm six-star Len!

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'It is recognition, really, of something you took part in. I am in the Royal Marines booklet, so no-one can dispute my being there.

'I am very fortunate. I think someone up there must be looking after me, no doubt about it.'

Mr Bloomfield said he passed up the opportunity to have the medal formally presented and elected to have it posted instead, because he wanted to show it to children at his regular talks at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford and at Beetley Primary School.

'They sent it to me because I requested it,' he said. 'I am often doing talks at Duxford and it was going to be a long time until September. I thought it was more important to get it now.

'It is important for children. Even grown-ups come up to me and say: 'If it was not for the likes of you, we would all be speaking German'. I get that quite often and at Duxford you meet people from all over the world. They all say the same thing.

'The reason I do it is because of all those young men's graves over in Normandy. I am trying to keep alive the memory of those young boys.'

The medal was awarded in recognition of Mr Bloomfield's role aboard HMS Resolution, bombarding German warships in the second Battle of Narvik in May 1940. It also rewards a daring rescue mission to collect captured comrades being held by the enemy soldiers in the Norwegian port at Aefjord.

A troop carrier aircraft had been shot down and landed on a beach, and when a requisitioned trawler went to investigate, the crew were captured by Jäger alpine troops.

Mr Bloomfield said: 'The navy looks after their own, so a detachment was ordered to get them back. We landed wearing khaki against the snow and we went up to the village, but they had gone round the back. We got them in a pincer movement and they gave up.'

Mr Bloomfield said his detachment captured about 10 enemy soldiers, and liberated half a dozen Navy sailors.

His Arctic Star will be worn alongside five other campaign medals: The 1939-1945, Atlantic, Africa, Italy and Burma stars.

Among those who stopped to talk to Mr Bloomfield during the Royal Norfolk Show was Jamie McDonald from Oulton Broad near Lowestoft, a former colour sergeant in the Royal Marines who retired last year after 24 years in the forces.

'I was walking around, I saw the beret, and I couldn't miss the chance to say hello,' he said. 'I've got medals from Iraq and Afghanistan, but this man's medals far outweigh mine.

'My medals were earned because I had to go there. This man was fighting for freedom. He is a true legend.'

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