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Arctic heroes: What did they do?

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
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Veterans to receive Arctic Convoy medals today

Prime Minister David Cameron will present the first Arctic Star medals and Bomber Command Clasps at Downing Street today.

Artist's impression of the new Arctic medal Credit: MOD

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.

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Fight for Arctic convoys medals

The government's plans to award veterans of the Arctic convoys campaign medals comes after years of campaigning. Servicemen past and present as well as local politicians had been locked in a battle to get those who served on the convoys recognition for their bravery during the second world war.

Living veterans and widows will be the first in line to receive the new medals. Production of the accolades is due to get underway soon.

MP welcomes Arctic convoy announcement

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage has welcomed the news that the Arctic Convoy Veterans of WW2 will begin receiving medals in recognition of their heroism and bravery.

“I'm delighted that having finally made the decision to award the medal, the Government have turned the design and criteria around in rapid time.

"The Arctic Convoy veterans are all heroes in the truest sense of the word. After ten years of campaigning my delight to see justice finally being done is tinged with sadness that so many are no longer alive to receive the medals they richly deserved.”

– Caroline Dinenage MP

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Beachy Head memorial to wartime RAF crews

Chinook
A Chinook flies in one of the memorials Credit: Derek Johnson

An RAF Chinook winches in the first of three concrete blocks at Beachy Head. They will form a memorial to the crews of Bomber Command. The Sussex beauty spot was the last sight of England for the men as they flew missions to Germany. The memorial has cost £25,000, raised by veterans and locals.

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