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Arctic convoy heroes honoured

Royal Navy and Merchant Navy sailors have received long-awaited Arctic Convoy Medals from Prime Minister David Cameron

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Royal Navy and Merchant Navy - picture by Prime Minister's Office

Royal Navy and Merchant Navy sailors have received long-awaited Arctic Convoy Medals from Prime Minister David Cameron honouring their heroism in helping supply Russia during some of the darkest days of the Second World War.

The Prime Minister met and awarded the British Arctic Star to veterans of both the Arctic Convoys and of Bomber Command in recognition of their deeds which are widely recognised as helping Russia’s war effort and significantly shortening the entire World War II (WW2) conflict.

There were two special ceremonies held at Downing Street.

In the morning 41 surviving veterans of the Arctic Convoy campaigns received the Arctic Convoy Star medal. Described by Winston Churchill as ‘the worst journey in the world’, the Arctic Convoy ships of the Royal and Merchant Navies made repeated perilous journeys in sub-zero temperatures to ensure vital supplies of both arms and food supplies reached Russian shores. Many lost their lives to the attentions of Axis aircraft, ships and submarines.

The Prime Minister said: “There are lots of extraordinary people I have met in this room in the last three years and lots of events I have been very proud to hold, but I can’t think of a group of people that I am more proud to have in Number 10 Downing Street. I am only sorry that it has taken 70 years to get to here and to say thank you for what you did. “You were involved in the most important struggle of the last 100 years when you were supplying one of our allies in the battle to defeat Hitler and to defeat fascism in Europe. You are a group of heroes, thank you.”

The Prime Minister then accompanied three of the veterans to the HMS Belfast, one of the surviving ships that took part in the Arctic Convoy campaign, for a tour of the historic vessel.

In the afternoon he also awarded 24 veterans the Bomber Command Clasp. Bomber Command operated from the first day of the War in Europe to the last. Of the approximately 125,000 aircrew who served in the Command 55,573 were killed.

The ceremonies follow Sir John Holmes’ review of the guiding rules, principles and processes for medallic recognition. The Prime Minister announced to the House of Commons in December that the Arctic Convoy Star and Bomber Command Clasp would be awarded.

Published 24 March 2013
Last updated 27 March 2013 + show all updates
  1. Added translation

  2. First published.