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Arctic veterans finally receiving recognition for war efforts
VETERANS of the Arctic Convoy are finally getting their bravery recognised after the government gave the go ahead for a new medal.
David Cameron told the House of Commons he had accepted an expert review's recommendation that an Arctic Star medal should finally be minted - 67 years after the end of the Second World War.
There are only about 200 survivors, among them 87-year-old John Ramsay, from Redcar, a former seaman and gunner who has long campaigned for a medal to be awarded.
The decision has been welcomed by Redcar MP Ian Swales who called on the government to review is stance during Prime Minister Questions in October.
He said: “I have been campaigning on this issue for some time. Constituents of mine were on one of the convoys and I’m so pleased that they, and all the other brave men who undertook such a treacherous journey, are finally being recognised.
“I asked the Prime Minister directly about this at a recent PMQs and am delighted that the British Government is at last giving these service men the medal they have fought for and so richly deserve.”
However, one of the leading campaigners says the hard fought campaign is tainted as so many shipmates had been denied recognition due to the actions of politicians.
Commander Eddie Grenfell, 92, from Portsmouth, said action should have been taken more quickly to implement a change that had been promised to him by a succession of Conservative leaders in opposition.
“We are pleased but not delighted,” he said.
“As soon as David Cameron came to power I reminded him of the promise - only now has he got around to doing it. In the meantime God knows how many of my Arctic Convoy chums have died waiting.
“All because we were waiting for these bloody politicians who have never heard a shot in their lives to make up their minds.”
More than 3,000 seamen died over four years from 1941 on missions to keep open supply lines to Soviet ports which were dubbed the worst journey in the world by Winston Churchill.
Announcing the decision today(Wednesday, December 19) Mr Cameron said: “I’m delighted to be able to tell the House that we have reached a resolution.
“Some of the brave men will get the recognition they so richly deserve.”