SCORES of veterans who sailed on Arctic convoys to support the Russian war effort have been told they cannot collect bravery medals.
Some 3,000 servicemen from across the UK took part in Arctic missions during the Second World War in what Winston Churchill described as “the worst journey in the world”.
Those who took part have now been offered Ushakov medals by the Russian government to recognise their courage.
But they have been told by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) that accepting the medals would break rules in this country.
Among those who took part in the daring campaign was Lieutenant Commander Roy Francis, 90, from Forncett St Mary, Norfolk, who served on the cruiser HMS Edinburgh when it travelled to Murmansk, in 1942, as the flagship for the convoys. It was attacked over successive days on the return journey.
The FCO told veterans that because they have already been honoured with the Atlantic Star campaign medal, they could not accept the Russian offer.
It has recently announced the creation of a specific Arctic campaign medal.
Lt Cdr Francis said: “I’m pleased to see that this government has finally agreed to give us a British campaign medal.”
However, he added: “I think they have got it wrong, though. The Russian government wants to give us a bravery medal, not a campaign medal. There is a big difference.”
A spokesman for the FCO said the rules on foreign awards stated the service performed “should have taken place within the previous five years.”
An e-petition asking the Government to reconsider has been set up on Downing Street’s website and can be found at epetitions.direct.gov.uk.