TRIBUTES have been paid to a Second World War veteran, who has passed away at the age of 95.

Harold O’Neill died on October 3 at the Western General Hospital, Edinburgh.

His daughter Pamela led tributes to Harold, who was awarded a top medal two years ago by the Russian Government for his bravery.

She said: “He had a very full and interesting life.

“He was very inspirational and very much a gentleman.

“He was always pristinely dressed and very tolerant of everyone.”

Mr O’Neill lived in Haddington with wife Beatrice, who passed away in 2004 after 60 years of marriage.

The couple had three children: Anne, who passed away last year, David and Pamela.

He also had eight grandchildren and seven great grandchildren, and Pamela added: “He was very loving towards his family and he was family-minded.”

In 2014, Mr O’Neill was presented with the Ushakov Medal by the Russian Consul General.

Mr O’Neill, who worked as a strongman at a grocer’s before the war, joined the navy and ended up in the Arctic.

He was aboard the HMS Sumba, which saw him ‘chopping’ ice for hours on end to try to free the vessel from the freezing waters between Iceland and Russia in 1942.

Another who paid tribute to Mr O’Neill, of Chalybeate, was author Gerald Urwin.

The two men worked together last year to tell Mr O’Neill’s story, with Mr Urwin penning his biography.

Hard Lying – a term referring to the extra payment Royal Naval Patrol Service crew received because of the unpleasant nature of their duties – was released last summer.

Mr Urwin described Mr O’Neill as “quite the character”. He said: “Harold and I were born 10 miles and 12 years apart in County Durham and we actually at one time worked in factories side by side at Gateshead.

“I did not know him until he joined the Probus club in Haddington and I met him coming out of Tesco one morning and asked him how many grandchildren he had. I told him they wanted to know what he did during the war.”

Mr Urwin said there would also be a minute’s silence at Haddington and District Probus Club’s next meeting on Monday.

Mr O’Neill was also a regular at the Remembrance Day events in Haddington, with the town’s community council also paying tribute.

Jan Wilson, chairwoman, said: “Harold was such a gentleman. He was the type of person you took an instant like to.”