Dec 19 2012
Veterans of the Second World War Arctic Convoys have won their long fight for recognition as David Cameron announced they would get medals.
Mr Cameron told MPs he had accepted the recommendations of a review of military medals carried out by former diplomat Sir John Holmes.
It also means a clasp will be awarded to "heroic" veterans of RAF Bomber Command, the Prime Minister said.
"Sir John has recommended and I fully agree, there will be an Arctic Convoy Star medal," he announced at Commons question time. "I am very pleased that some of the brave men of the Arctic Convoys will get the recognition they so richly deserve for the very dangerous work they did.
"On Bomber Command, Sir John concluded that they have been treated inconsistently with those who served in Fighter Command. He has therefore recommended, and I also agree, that the heroic aircrews should be awarded a Bomber Command Clasp."
More than 3,000 seamen died in Operation Dervish, which saw supplies delivered to the Soviet ports of Murmansk and Archangel. The mission to keep the supply lines open was described as the "worst journey in the world" by Winston Churchill.
But survivors' efforts to secure formal recognition had been repeatedly rebuffed over many years on the grounds of protocol.
Only around 400 veterans are thought to still be alive, and Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage, who has been a prominent campaigner, said time was of the essence in getting the decorations to their elderly recipients.
She said: "I'm delighted that the Government have addressed the huge injustice suffered by the Arctic Convoy veterans. I would now urge the Government to deliver on the medal as a matter of urgency, after years of waiting, time is no longer a luxury that these brave men have on their side.
"Although it's been a long time in coming, I'm pleased that their sacrifice has finally been recognised and the medal makes the ideal gift, just in time for Christmas."