Prime Minister David Cameron says yes to Arctic convoy medal

Prime Minister David Cameron has said there will be a medal for Arctic convoy veterans.

Arctic convoy veteran Vaughan Williams at home in Wilmington.

Arthur Gardner with the unofficial Russian medal he has been allowed to accept.

First published in Bexley News Shopper: Photograph of the Author by , reporter

PRIME Minister David Cameron has said there will be a British medal awarded to veterans of the Arctic convoys.

The announcement will please Wilmington resident Vaughan Williams, aged 89, and 86-year-old Arthur Gardener of Faygate Crescent, Bexleyheath, who both served on the convoys but have yet to be awarded a proper medal.

Survivors of what Winston Churchill called "the most dangerous journey in the world" supplying the Soviet Union during the Second World War, are barred from accepting a Russian award for their service despite Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA allowing their citizens to accept the Ushakov medal.

Foreign Office rules on foreign awards state the recipient has to have rendered some service to the country concerned within the past five years.

Regardless an official British medal will now replace the Atlantic Star: a lapel pin previously awarded to Arctic convoy veterans despite being created for a different campaign.

Answering a question from Plymouth and Sutton MP Oliver Colville at Prime Minister’s questions this lunchtime, Mr Cameron said the long-running campaign to get a medal for convoy veterans will finally come to an end after a review by diplomat Sir John Holmes.

He said: "Sir John has recommended, and I fully agree, there will be an Arctic convoy star medal.

"I am very pleased that some of the brave men of the Arctic convoys will get the recognition they so richly deserve for the very dangerous work they did."

More details will come from the Ministry of Defence in the New Year on how veterans can apply.

After seeing Mr Williams’ story on the News Shopper website Dartford MP Gareth Johnson raised his case in the House of Commons last month.

Mr Johnson said in a statement: "I was absolutely delighted to hear David Cameron today announce plans to offer an Arctic Convoy Star Medal to those who served our country on the difficult and dangerous Arctic convoys mission.

"It is an issue that I raised myself in the chamber and I am thrilled to see those who so bravely served this country finally getting the recognition they deserve."

The Arctic Convoys

The Second World War Arctic convoys delivered food, weapons, munitions and vehicles so the Soviet Union could fight Nazi Germany on the Eastern Front.

From 1941 to 1945 around 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.

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