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News Archive > General > Town Salutes War Veteran

Town Salutes War Veteran

By Natasha Swift 27th January 2021

Town Salutes War Veteran
William ‘Arthur’ Frazier, who died on Friday, January 15 at Wentworth Care Home in St Austell. Arthur was 100 years old

St Austell is in mourning following the loss of one of its last surviving Second World War veterans, Arthur Frazier, who has died at the age of 100. William ‘Arthur’ Frazier passed away on Friday, January 15 at Wentworth Care Home in St Austell. Known as Arthur, he lived through two world wars, 25 prime ministers, the reigns of four British monarchs and saw England win the World Cup.

Arthur spoke to the Voice ahead of his 100th birthday last year about his incredible life. The Royal Navy veteran, who was born in Mevagissey on June 29, 1920, was the last living descendant of the Fraziers, a boat-building family from the fishing village.

Arthur’s grandfather, James Frazier, bought the Mevagissey boatyard after being based in the village as a coastguard in 1850, just after the cholera epidemic. After leaving school, Arthur joined the family business at the age of 14 in 1934. Having completed his apprenticeship as a boatbuilder at the end of 1939, Arthur, aged 20, was called up to serve in the Royal Navy and report to HMS Drake. He joined a new aircraft carrier, HMS Victorious, at the end of March 1941 and the ship became Arthur’s home for the next five years with HMS Victorious escorting 16 convoys in temperatures of -20 to -40 in the Arctic Ocean during 1941 to 1942.

Winston Churchill described the Arctic convoys as the worst journey in the world due to the loss of lives and destruction of ships. Arthur, who described those journeys as “hell” as they came under constant fire from enemy aircraft and attacks from Uboats, said those convoys played a vital role in helping the war effort.

HMS Victorious returned to Liverpool for a refit in 1943 and during this time Arthur returned home to Mevagissey where he married his wife, Audrey, who didn’t see her husband again for two years. Arthur then returned to HMS Victorious to join the home fleet at Scapa Flow and onto the Mediterranean. He survived an attempted torpedo attack which came within a few feet of HMS Victorious.

Arthur finally joined with the British East Indies Fleet and in early 1945, being part of the British PacificFleet he was assigned to carry out attacks on Japanese Airfields. As England celebrated Victory in Europe (VE) Day in May of that year, Arthur was thousands of miles away being bombed by the “dreaded” Kamikaze. The attack left 20 men dead and many more injured.

Arthur returned to Cornwall in 1946 after travelling a total of 300,000 nautical miles during his time in the Navy, which took him to America, Hawaiian islands, Australia, Ski Lanka, Egypt, Malta, Gibraltar, Algeria and many more places. After the war, he and Audrey returned to Mevagissey, where he continued running the family boatyard before it closed in 1981. Between 35 to 40 vessels were built over 35 years by Arthur including the “Queen of the Fal” now called “Coronation Belle” which still operates out of Belfast.

Arthur and Audrey moved to St Austell in 1962. Audrey passed away in 2013, aged 92, just shy of the couple’s 70th wedding anniversary. Arthur was instrumental in setting up Mevagissey Museum and has remained wellknown and respected in the St Austell area. He maintained that keeping your brain active was the key to a long life as he turned 100.

The Voice spoke to Arthur last month after he was one of only 5,000 surviving WWII veterans to be given a special Christmas present. The Not Forgotten charity gave him a gift box to show appreciation for all he had done after covid stopped the 75th anniversary celebrations of VE Day.

Arthur described it as a “great honour”.

Arthur’s funeral took place yesterday. Paying tribute, Cornwall councillor for Mevagissey,James Mustoe, said: “Really sorry to hear of the recent passing of Mr Arthur Frazier, aged 100. “A tremendous innings including time with family business Frazier's Boatyard, some of which is now Mevagissey Museum, and serving his country in the Navy during World War 2.

“I was lucky enough to see him most recently in 2019, when he was on fine form visiting the restored Merita, a boat he had seen built by his Father in the 1930's in the Boatyard. He even took her out around the bay, a lovely memory.”

By Natasha Swift 27th January 2021

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