Now they've waited 70 years to receive their medals and today at a special ceremony marking armed forces day, 25 veterans of the Arctic Convoys were honoured.
The Arctic Star medals were due to be sent out in the post but many felt this was no way to recognise the efforts of those who've endured so much.
Kerry Swain reports.
Kerry Swain spoke to Alec Penstone, Ann Briggs and the Leader of Portsmouth City Council Gerald Vernon-Jackson.
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Robert Weighton and Alfred Smith only became pen pals two years ago - and today Britain's oldest men both celebrated their 109th birthdays.
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Wednesday night's weather for the west of the region