John Hallahan joined the Royal Navy in 1938 and between 1940 and 1942 served as a boiler room technician on the cruiser HMS Devonshire which protected convoys bringing vital arms, food and medical supplies to the Soviet ports of Murmansk and Archangel. These convoys had to run the gauntlet of treacherous ice floes, mine fields, in addition to the constant treat of attacks from German aircraft and submarines. After leaving the Royal Navy in 1950, John Hallahan worked at Cork's Whitegate Oil Refinery for 25 years.
Due to Mr. Hallahan's recent ill health, Mr. Nikeryasov made the journey to Cork to present him with his medal in Cork City Hall in the presence of Lord Mayor Cllr. Dara Murphy. Children from the Cork Russian School, founded by Tania Zhinzhina, presented Mr. Hallahan with flowers and a piece of Russian soil.
During the presentation ceremony Mr. Nikeryasov said that it was due to people such as Mr. Hallahan and fellow Irish Royal Navy veterans George Jones and Geoffrey Metcalfe, both of whom live in Dublin, that the Soviet Union had survived that they are owed a great debt as it was thanks to them and their comrades that the Soviet Union was able to get food and medicines from our allies in Britain and the United States of America which helped thousands survive and contributed to the victory over the Nazis.
Former submariner Ronald Erridge, Secretary of the Royal Naval Association in Cork and County, said that the life expectancy of an Arctic convoy sailor who fell into the water was one minute and that few people could accept that without the strength of character that John has and that they were very proud of him.
The Russian Federation will present similar medals to George Jones and Geoffrey Metcalfe in their embassy in Dublin in May and to the relatives of Norman Sparksman who died earlier this year and the family of Thomas O'Neill who died in 2008.