War hero Freddy Conroy to be posthumously honored by West Dunbartonshire Council

A war hero – whose remarkable service saw him being internationally recognized – will be honored by the council after he died weeks before his 100th birthday.

Freddy Conroy, from Renton, was awarded medals from the French and Russian governments for his service during the Second World War.

The Royal Navy veteran worked in the engine room of HMS Rodney as a leading stoker and was involved in many efforts, including the sinking of the Bismarck, the Battle of the Atlantic, D-Day, the Sicily landings, Malta convoys and Arctic convoys.

Freddy spoke little of his time in the war for decades, with details only coming to the surface when his great-granddaughter asked him about it for a school project.

He passed away on January 14, with his funeral held on what would have been his 100th birthday.

Councillor John Millar spoke of the veteran’s incredible life during a council meeting last week, where he called on the local authority to work with his family to honor his memory, which councilors unanimously agreed.

Son Freddy told the Lennox Herald: “Dad was on HMS Rodney until the end of the war but his saying to us was he saw some bad sights, but most importantly he came home, others didn’t.

“The Conroy family would like to thank the council for their decision taken to honor our dad for his service to the country.”

Speaking at the meeting, Councilor Millar said: “Mr Conroy was a long-standing character in Renton for many, many years.

“He was a quiet man but everybody knew him.

“When he was 18 he joined the Royal Navy and worked in the engine room of HMS Rodney as a leading stoker.

“They didn’t talk much in any detail about the war for decades until his granddaughter had a school project on the Second World War and that started to open Freddy up a bit.

“After speaking with his family, he never spoke about his heroics during the war. That was the down to earth man that he was.

“He’d say he went to war and came back when thousands didn’t.”

In 2015, the Russian government awarded Freddy the Medal of Ushakov, as well as a watch and gift, given to the British veterans of the Arctic Convoys.

And in 2018, for his D-Day efforts, the French government awarded him La Legion d’Honneur, the highest recognition in France.

His story began on January 29, 1922 when he was born at 101 High Street in Dumbarton.

Freddy, who went to St Patrick’s School, had four brothers and three sisters and the family went on to move to Crosslet Road in Silverton and then to Hill Street in Brucehill.

At the age of 15, he was offered a place at Stow College but refused, saying he needed to earn a living for his family.

He began working as a bicycle boy for the Co-operative butchers, delivering groceries and meat. While working there, he was offered a job at Denny’s shipyard, where he worked until the war broke out.

After the war he married wife Patsy and the couple had four sons, Michael, John, Freddy and William.

He went on to work in construction on projects, including at the Southern General Hospital, the Vale of Leven Hospital and Dumbarton Gas Works, before getting a job at Hiram Walker’s Dumbuck distillery. His four sons later joined him there and he retired at the age of 61.

Speaking at the council meeting, deputy provost Karen Conaghan said she was saddened she couldn’t visit Freddy on his 100th birthday.

She said: “It is my great disappointment as I was going to visit him on his 100th birthday and was really looking forward to it so it was particularly sad that he passed away just those couple of weeks before that. He was quite an amazing character.”


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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