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Bexleyheath Arctic convoys veteran denied Russian bravery medal
A BRITISH war veteran is "bloody mad" at being denied a medal for risking his life helping the Soviet Union fight Hitler.
Arthur Gardner, now 86 and living in Faygate Crescent, Bexleyheath, was awarded the Ushakov medal by the Russian government for serving in the Arctic convoys of the Second World War.
But like many other survivors of what Winston Churchill called "the most dangerous journey in the world", he is barred from accepting the bravery award.
The ex-naval Quartermaster has four decorative medals from Russia but can't have the Ushakov despite Australia, Canada New Zealand and the USA allowing their citizens to accept it.
Foreign Office rules on foreign awards state the recipient has to have rendered some service to the country concerned within the past five years.
He said: "I am bloody mad.
"What’s it got to do with the British government?
"If they sent me the medal why shouldn’t I be able to have it?"
The grandfather-of-four was just a 17-year-old naval recruit when he joined up in 1943 before doing three return trips to Russia on HMS Westcott. The W-class destroyer helped escort vessels carrying weapons, food and supplies to the Russian port of Murmansk.
The Seaman Gunner was then involved in D-Day before being promoted to Quartermaster and doing another three return trips on the convoys.
A builder after the war, Mr Gardner says a daily job onboard ship was using pick axes to clear up to four inches of ice from the guard rails.
He added: "A good day was when it was up and down with 60ft waves; when it was that rough you wouldn’t get any enemy attacks."
There is a British award for Arctic convoy veterans - the Atlantic star - though you could "cover it with a five pence piece" according to Mr Gardner.
A Foreign Office spokesman said the Russian government would need to provide evidence of direct support for Russia in the last five years for any British citizen to be awarded the Ushakov Medal.
The Arctic convoys
The Second World War Arctic convoys delivered vital supplies to the Soviet Union fighting Nazi Germany on the Eastern Front.
From 1941 to 1945 1,400 merchant vessels sailed with naval escorts from Britain, Iceland and north America to the Soviet ports of Archangel and Murmansk.
Eighty-five merchant vessels, 16 Royal Navy warships and more than 3,000 sailors were lost.