Order of Lenin type 4
Thousands of men served on the Arctic Convoys during the Second World War or, as the Russians called it, the Great Patriotic War, trying to get supplies to the Eastern front. 70 years on, Russia has awarded special Ushakov medals to surviving veterans from Northern Ireland in recognition of their bravery, one of whom was 91 year old Tommy Jess from Lisburn. But my old friend Frank Millar (1925 – 13 May 2001) was awarded the Order of Lenin by Stalin after the war for his immense bravery in the Baltic. Frankie worked in the Belfast shipyards, as did Alderman Tommy Patton, where he became a shop steward, before becoming a founder member of Ulster Protestant Action in 1956.
Frankie was first elected to Belfast City Council in 1972, representing Dock, then the Antrim and Shore Road areas. He held his seat at each subsequent election until retiring in 1993. He was Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast in 1981-2 and 1992-3. He was also elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1973 for Belfast North as an Ulster Unionist Party anti-Sunningdale Agreement candidate. He held his seat on the Northern Ireland Constitutional Cinvention in 1975 as an independent Unionist, and for the 1982 Northern Ireland Assembly.In the late 1980s, he campaigned against the privatisation of the Harland and Wolff shipyard.His son, Frank MIllar, Jr. was also an Ulster Unionist Party Assembly member.
I was very fond of Frankie and Alderman Tommy Patton O.B.E., also a shipyard worker and former Lord Mayor, whom I used to run home from Council meetings. Frankie was Chairman of the General Purposes and Finance (Development) Sub-Committee of Belfast City Council. With the support of Tommy, Aldermen Fred Proctor, Nigel Dodds,M.A, (Cantab), B.L., John S.D.(Dixie) Gilmore, O.B.E., Hugh Smyth O.B.E., and Sammy Wilson and Councillors Margaret Clarke, Margaret Crooks, Mervyn Jones, F.C.A. and Robin Newton, and then Full Council, Pretani Press published for the Council in 1991 a facsimile edition of The Great War 1914-1918, Ulster Greets her Brave and Faithful Sons and remembers her Glorious Dead. This was first published in 1919 by the Citizens Committee, City Hall, Belfast. Copies are still retained by the Council for distribution on special occasions.
On 9th June, 1992, Frankie and Suzanne Wylie, a young and up-and-coming officer of the Health, Meat and Markets Committee, and I travelled to a Healthy Cities Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. Frankie was chairman of that committee and I was vice-chairman. We both thought that Suzanne would go a long way in the Council. I talked to Frankie of the Vikings, both Norse and Danes, and the influence they had on the history of the British Isles; how Danish Dublin was founded by British slaves from Dumbarton, capital of the British Kingdom of Strathclyde, of the Norse in the Hebrides now classified as “Gaels” and of the Great Danish Army who conquered most of the east of England and are now called “English”. The Great Danish Army, known by the Anglo-Saxons as the Great Heathen Army, was a coalition of Viking warriors, originating from Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, who came together under a unified command to invade the four Anglo-Saxon kingdoms that constituted England in AD 865.
But, of course , he knew most of this, for he was a very intelligent and forthright person, indeed forthright to a point not always to his own interest. We took a sea-trip to Malmö in Sweden and on this he told me about his exploits as a seaman in the Baltic and how Stalin awarded him the Order of Lenin.
The Order of Lenin (Russian: Орден Ленина, Orden Lenina), named after the leader of the Russian October Revolution, was the highest decoration bestowed by the Soviet Union. The order was awarded to:
- Civilians for outstanding services rendered to the State,
- Members of the armed forces for exemplary service,
- Those who promoted friendship and cooperation between peoples and in strengthening peace
- Those with meritorious services to the Soviet state and society
From 1944 to 1957, before the institution of specific length of service medals, the Order of Lenin was also used to reward 25 years of conspicuous military service.
Those who were awarded the titles “Hero of the Soviet Union” and “Hero of Socialist Labour” were also given the order as part of the award. It was also bestowed on cities, companies, factories, regions, military units and ships. Corporate entities, factories, various educational institutions and military units who received the said Order applied the full name of the order into their official titles.
The order was established by the Central Executive Committee on April 6, 1930. It was last awarded on December 21st, 1991, bringing it to a total of 431,418 .