The veterans of the Arctic Convoys today got what they fought 70 years for - medals in recognition of their heroic efforts in World War Two. We have reports by Kate Bunkall and Andrew Pate.
Commander Eddie Grenfell has spoken of his pride at the end of his sixteen-year-long campaign for himself and his colleagues to receive official recognition for their role in the Arctic Convoys of World War Two.
The 93-year-old commander said he was just sorry for his colleagues who had died before the medals were awarded.
Ahead of receiving his Arctic Star medal at Downing Street for his role in the Arctic Convoys of World War Two, veteran Douglas Turtle from the Isle of Wight told us what he would say to the Prime Minister David Cameron.
The veteran who led the campaign for those involved in the Arctic Convoys to receive the 'Arctic Star medals' has finally received his medal after years of campaigning.
Commander Eddie Grenfell, aged 93, was too ill to travel to a special ceremony at Downing Street where some of his colleagues will receive their wards from the Prime Minister. Commander Grenfell was the first person to receive the medal.
An Arctic Convoy veteran from the Isle of Wight has begun his journey to London to collect his medal from The Prime Minister at Downing Street. Douglas Turtle was involved in one of World War Two's most dangerous naval missions. He has been invited to a special ceremony by David Cameron.
The award of the Arctic Star and the Bomber Command Clasp follows years of campaigning for proper recognition for armed services personnel from the Arctic Convoys and Bomber Command during the Second World War.
The Prime Minster will meet with 65 Arctic Convoy and Bomber Command veterans to present them with the first of their medals and clasps. At a special ceremony in Downing Street, around 40 men will be presented with the Arctic Star medal. Another 25 will receive the Bomber Command clasp.
The men, who are in all in their 80s and 90s, are bringing wives and family with them to the presentation. They will all be treated to tea and cakes in the Downing Street State Rooms once they have received their medals and clasps and had their picture taken with the Prime Minister.
One of those who helped put pressure on the government to recognise the Royal Navy sailors is Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage. We spoke to her and asked how important it was that the men were finally being recognised for their efforts.
Today the first Arctic Star medals and Bomber Command Clasps will be presented to veterans by the Prime Minister.
- Veterans undertook what was dubbed "the worst journey in the world", delivering supplies to Russia
- More than 3,000 seamen died on the journey, which made sure Germany had to fight a war on two fronts
- The seamen delivered ships which carried crucial supplies, including 13,000 tanks, 22,000 aircraft and 417,000 motor vehicles
- Some 58 of the 811 merchant ships involved were sunk by German U-boats, battleships and Luftwaffe bombers
- With freezing temperatures of minus 20 degrees, anyone who fell into the water died within three minutes
- The men covered a 1,500 to 2,000-mile run across the North and Barents Seas, one of the deadliest convoy routes during the war
Prime Minister David Cameron will present the first Arctic Star medals and Bomber Command Clasps at Downing Street today.
Up to 250,000 veterans, and the families of those who died, are eligible to receive the new awards.
It comes after David Cameron's announcement in December that he was accepting the recommendations of a review of military decorations.
Veterans of the convoys that supplied Allied forces in the Arctic had their first glimpse today of the campaign medal they've waited 70 years to see. The Royal Mint has finally begun production of the Arctic Star. Fred and Sangeeta introduce our coverage.
World War II war heroes who served on the Arctic Convoys and in Bomber Command will begin receiving brand new awards in recognition of their heroism and bravery within weeks, the Defence Minister Mark Francois has announced.
Production of the new Arctic Star and Bomber Command clasp will kick start this week. Up to a quarter of a million veterans and the families of those who have sadly died could be eligible to receive the new awards in recognition of their unique contribution protecting Britain during World War II.
Living veterans and widows will be the first in line to receive the awards from as early as March.
Mark Francois, Minister for Defence Personnel and Veterans, said: “All those who served our country in Bomber Command and on the Arctic Convoys deserve nothing but the utmost respect and admiration.
"That’s why I am delighted that these special individuals will in the next few weeks begin to receive the Bomber Command clasp and Arctic Star that they have so long deserved.
“I am also pleased to announce that the families of those no longer alive will also be able to apply for these awards in recognition of their loved one’s bravery.”
The Prime Minister announced the new awards last December and after extensive consultation the final designs have now been agreed.
The Arctic Star will be based on the World War II Stars and the Bomber Command clasp, to be worn on the ribbon of the 1939 to 1945 Star, will follow the design of the Battle of Britain clasp.