"I'M not a hero or anything," said Raymond Maurice Hewer, clutching the medal he received from the Russian government in recognition of the vital role he played during the Second World War.

The 90-year-old of Park South was handed the Medal of Ushakov for his bravery and courage in defence of the Russian convoys through the Arctic, considered as one of the most dangerous roles during the war.

Battleships from the Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, and the US Navy escorted around 1,400 merchant ships to Russia during the war, and 16 warships from the Royal Navy were lost during the missions.

But as Raymond's memory of the cold, wet and dark fade, he still recalls the time where he nearly blew up his own ship.

"I nearly blew the Anson up once," he said. "I was on a 525 turrett and the shell came up and to shoot it you have to push it into the gun. I picked it up and I didn't know know anything about it but this hammer was pushing it in just then and smashed onto my finger, so I dropped the shell below the turrett and it fell below.

"The sergeant went crazy and said I had to go and fetch it. He didn't worry about me in the slightest."

Raymond also formed part of former Russian president, Nikita Khrushchev's escort, and was one-time valet to the Duke of Kent.

"I joined the Marines when I was 17," he said.

"I was too young to join the Navy, and I did three years on the same boat in the Russian Convoy - the Anson.

"I have forgotten almost everything. Everyone has gone now.

"It was very cold. The guns all froze up.

"It could also get quite rough at sea. Most the time it was fine, but sometimes we could be scattered all over the deck."

Raymond said he was proud to receive the medal after all these years.

He said: "I was really surprised because I didn't especially think they would send these out. They promised us other medals but nothing came of it."

After the war, Raymond joined metal fabrication company CF IDE. In his early thirties he met and married his wife, Dorothy, in Wimbledon.

He later became a telephone engineer with British Telecom and moved to Swindon around 22 years ago to be near his family.