Veterans

98-Year-Old WWII Veteran Dies Days After Receiving Norwegian Honour

Ralph Brigginshaw served on the destroyer HMS Hardy in the Battle of Narvik in 1940.

Ralph Brigginshaw receiving a diploma of gratitude from the Norwegian government (Picture: Royal Navy).

A former Royal Navy sailor who was given a Norwegian honour for his part in a World War Two battle has died at the age of 98.

Norway's government presented Ralph Brigginshaw with a diploma of gratitude, just three days before his death.

Mr Brigginshaw served on destroyer HMS Hardy in the Battle of Narvik in April 1940.

Ralph as a young sailor (Picture: Royal Navy).

The bold efforts of the ship's company helped to surprise strong German forces who had captured the Atlantic iron ore port.

The vessel, however, was sunk. Ralph had to fight for survival in the icy water with shrapnel in his back and arm.

After struggling 200 yards to reach land, he collapsed.

The wreck of HMS Hardy in April 1940 (Picture: Royal Navy).

All ten German destroyers in the area were sunk after the Royal Navy sent in a second force led by the battleship Warspite.

Ralph spent six weeks in a Norwegian hospital before his repatriation.

He was the last surviving crewman from the battle, and passed away surrounded by family at his home in West Sussex.

His great-nephew Luke paid tribute to him: "The family are devastated by Ralph’s passing but we understand that he had a long good life and loved his country and the Royal Navy.

"Ralph was my hero growing up and, along with grandad, fuelled my love for the Royal Navy and its history – he was the subject of many family stories."