David Cameron today hailed the first recipients of the Arctic Star medal as a "group of heroes", as he presented them with the newly-created award.
Hosting a special ceremony at Number 10 Downing Street, Cameron said: "I can't think of a prouder day that I have had in this job or a group of people I am more honoured to share it with."
The creation of the Arctic Star medal, along with the new Bomber Command Clasp, were announced by Mr Cameron in December, 67 years after the war, following a long-running campaign.
The move followed recommendations of a review of military decorations by former diplomat Sir John Holmes.
Today the first Arctic Star medals and Bomber Command Clasps have been 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
David Cameron today visited HMS Belfast with three Arctic Convoy veterans.
They gave him a tour around the vessel, showing him where ice was cleared from the deck in perilous circumstances.
Mr Cameron said: "They are heroes and I think it's just so right that we are honouring them today for their incredible service 70 years ago, and I'm really proud as Prime Minister to have set up that review, to make that decision and to get them that medal they so richly deserve.
Redcar MP Ian Swales has welcomed the announcement that veterans who worked on the Arctic convoys during the Second World War will soon receive medals to celebrate their efforts.
The Arctic Convoys are best known for keeping open important supply routes which helped the Red Army to push back against Hitler, as well as supplying vital fuel, munitions and food during the war.
Ian Swales MP said:
‘’I am delighted that this Government has recognised the incredible efforts of our Arctic Convoy war veterans, many of whom died whilst doing this vital work.
"Veterans and widows will have priority to apply and be awarded with this well deserved medal, and next of kin will also be able to apply for a medal to commemorate the work that their loved ones did for their country.
‘’I have a few constituents who will be in line to receive one of these medals, and I am sure they will be glad to have this recognition. One of my constituents, John Ramsey, who was only a young man when he joined the Arctic Convoys, will be very pleased with his medal when he receives it.’’
VIDEO: David Cameron makes the announcement that veterans of the arctic convoys will receive medals for their actions during the Second World War
David Cameron has announced that veterans of the Arctic convoys of World War Two will receive medals for their action. More to follow.