MORE than 60 years after the Second World War ended veterans have won another victory, this time in a 15-year battle for official recognition.
The campaign, spearheaded by former Montrosian Commander Eddie Grenfell, has lobbied successive governments for a campaign medal for those who served on the Arctic convoys, which carried armaments and supplies from Canada to Russia. Although convoy veterans have also been entitled to wear the Atlantic Star, they have argued for years they operated in an entirely different theatre of war which merited separate recognition.
Braving the most severe weather conditions as well as running the gauntlet of U-boats and fighter planes, the convoys helped to ensure that the Russians were well equipped to keep up their fight against the Germans on the Eastern front.
The veterans’ appeals fell on deaf ears until last week when Prime Minister David Cameron announced that a new campaign medal with be struck following a review of the awarding of medals by former diplomat Sir John Holmes.
Commander Grenfell, 92, is this week said to be “pleased but not delighted” by the decision which is tinged with sadness because as many as four fifths of the surviving veterans have died since the campaign began.
Angus MP Mike Weir has welcomed the decision that the bravery of those who served on the convoys will finally be recognised.
He said: “The Arctic convoys operated in unimaginable conditions ensuring a lifeline for our Russian allies during the dark days of the Second World War. Without their courage and sacrifices the outcome of the war in the east, and throughout Europe could have been very different. We owe them a great deal and the lack of recognition by successive governments over the years has been shameful.”
Full details about the medal, including how veterans can apply for the award, will be revealed in the new year.