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British Arctic Convoy veterans honoured on board HMS Belfast

Through Arctic seas seventy eight convoys from Britain to northern Russia brought the Soviet Union the lifeline it needed to fight off the Nazis.

Some of the ships that left Britain never came back. The British faced continual German attacks, from the air and from the sea and 3,000 men died as a result.

The supplies that arrived kept millions of Russian people alive.

British planes, flown by Russians, repelled the approaching German army.

British veterans meet their Soviet counterparts. Credit: ITV News/Luke Hanrahan

When I travelled to Russia, I was struck by the number of people who stopped the veterans the street for photographs. Many people who grew up in the Soviet Union during the war still remember eating British food - handed out in rations without which, many would have perished.

In Russia, the importance of the Arctic Convoys has never been forgotten. Britain, the only ally to provide desperately assistance, which swung the balance on the eastern front

Eight members of the Kennington branch of the Arctic convoy club arrived at the British Embassy opposite the Kremlin, in the December last year - perhaps for last time.

They travelled because of Jimmy Pitts; an 89 year old Londoner who decided to donate his Arctic star medal to the Russian people which was awarded to them by David Cameron last year.

British veterans look on during the ceremony. Credit: ITV News/Luke Hanrahan

In Russia, the men were given the royal treatment. Nobody ever forgot their efforts and every year since the war the country has thanked them.

Veteran Tony Snelling, 92, said: "It is sad that it has taken over seventy years for the award to be made, and many of the survivors have now passed away."

Twenty-seven million Russian people died during the Second World War, but millions more would have died were it not for the efforts of these few thousand British men - recognised in Russia as heroes.

The few hundred who remain hope to be remembered in Britain as well as Russia when they are gone.

Today's ceremony will see them awarded the Ushakov Medal - a state decoration of the Russian Federation that was retained from the awards system of the USSR post 1991.

Despite today's political tension, the Russian people will never forget the help they received.