Arctic Convoy Veterans Honoured
Story from BBC News at bbcnews.com – 11 October 2006.
The first veterans of the World War II Arctic convoys have received a special award to mark their bravery.
Arctic Emblems were presented in ceremonies on HMS Belfast, in London , and HMS Ark Royal, in Rosythe, Fife.
Veterans have long campaigned for their part in getting vital supplies to the then Soviet Union to be recognised. About 5,000 veterans and next of kin of those who died will receive the emblem from the Veterans’ Agency over the course of the weekend.
Among the armed forces and Merchant Navy veterans to receive the award on HMS Belfast from new Veteran’s Minister Derek Twigg was 86-year-old Commander Eddie Grenfell, who was instrumental in the campaign for recognition. Cdr. Grenfell from Havant, Hampshire, said: “We are very happy with the outcome but the only question that we have is why did we have to wait so long? It should have been done right at the beginning.” He campaigned for a medal rather than an emblem to be awarded but a decision was made in 1946 not to create any more medals for WWII campaigns. Ten veterans received their emblems in the ceremony on HMS Ark Royal.
The convoys managed to deliver 12,755 tanks, 22,200 aircraft and 375,800 trucks, as well as four million tons of ammunition and other supplies to the USSR.
RAF planes and Army gunners on board defended the ships from German attacks from air and sea.
Mr Twigg said: “The Arctic Emblem is a mark of the nation’s gratitude for incredible achievements in difficult and dangerous conditions.”
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