Arctic Convoy Medal
Posted 5th November 2002
spoke to Cdr Eddie Grenfell a few days ago who told me the Foreign Office was
"no longer objecting" to the Russian medal being awarded to British
Arctic convoy veterans. More he could not say for the moment. This is probably
old news to you blokes in the UK. But I thought I would at least drop my other
John England, Berlin
Arctic Convoy Medal
Posted 8th August 2002
Whitehall's reported decision (Daily Telegraph 7/8/02) not to
allow British Arctic convoy veterans (either RN or MN) to receive the Defence of
the Soviet Polar Region medal the Russians awarded to their own sailors way back
then and are now offering to the Brits. Cdr Eddie Grenfell (RN Rtd) has already
summed it well as a "decision taken by people who have never heard a shot
fired in anger". Various MN veterans' Website forums are also very
understandably running hot over it.
(Originally posted by Robin Hurst, site administrator of the T.S. Vindicatrix website)
DAILY TELEGRAPH 7th August 2002
Uproar over veteran medal veto
By Stewart Payne
The Government has angered British veterans of the Second World War Arctic convoys by telling them that they should not receive a Russian medal honouring their bravery. The Russian government wants to give surviving Royal and Merchant Navy sailors the same medal that it gave to its own sailors who helped to keep supply lines open. But Whitehall has decided the issue of the medal to British convoy men is inappropriate because it was originally intended for Soviet sailors.
In a letter to veterans, Richard Coney, a senior civil servant, said: "It is most unlikely that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which is responsible for dealing with such requests from foreign governments, will recommend to the Queen that permission should be granted to either receive or wear the medal. "Arctic convoy survivors received the Atlantic Medal but an Arctic medal, although considered, was never struck. There are 1,600 Arctic convoy survivors. One of them, Cdr Eddie Grenfell, from Havant, Hants, said: "These decisions are made by people who've never seen a shot fired in anger. They have no idea of the hell we went through. "Cdr Grenfell, who survived the sinking of his ship in the Arctic in May 1942, added: "We veterans are dismayed and disgusted by the Government's ungrateful attitude."
At the end of the war, the Soviet government commissioned the Defence of the Soviet Polar Region medal and gave it to its own sailors. The Russian government has now decided that the same medal should be presented to the British survivors.
Pavel Bogomolov, London correspondent for Pravda, said with the end of the Cold War his people felt free to honour British comrades. "Millions of people in Russia have come to realise how important the Allies were to us."
The convoys carried 22,000 aircraft and 13,000 tanks, helping to tip the balance in Eastern front. The British Government is wary about medals issued to its servicemen and women by overseas governments. To wear those given by foreign powers requires the permission of the Queen. Mike Hancock, Liberal Democrat MP for Portsmouth South, described the Government's attitude to the Russian plan as "insensitive and crass".
Would you like to know more about why these men deserve an Arctic Convoy Medal?
Go to www.navalhistory.net and read this webpage, it lists the convoys between 1941 and 1945, and what the men and convoys suffered at the hands of the Aircraft and U-boats sent to sink them.
Now you have the chance to make your voice heard.....
Links to online web fora where this issue is being discussed:
T.S. Vindicatrix Association Guestbook (opens a new window)
Force Z Survivors Association Forum (opens a new window)
Battle Cruiser Hood Forum (opens a new window)