THE awarding of medals to Arctic Convoys veterans is “welcome but long overdue”, a Holyrood minister has said.
More than 3,000 seamen died over four years from 1941 on missions to transport supplies to the Soviet ports of Murmansk and Archangel during the Second World War.
The mission to keep the supply lines open was described as the “worst journey in the world” by then prime minister Winston Churchill, but survivors’ efforts to secure formal recognition had been repeatedly rebuffed over many years on the grounds of protocol.
Only about 200 veterans are thought to still be alive and yesterday the group won its long fight for recognition when the Prime Minister announced they would be honoured with an Arctic Star medal.
David Cameron told MPs he had accepted the recommendations of a review of military medals carried out by former diplomat Sir John Holmes.
Veterans minister Keith Brown backed the Arctic Convoy survivors’ campaign and urged the UK government to award the medals during a meeting last month.
He said: “This group of men made an immeasurable contribution to the Allied forces’ efforts during World War Two.
“They faced the enemy in some of the toughest conditions anywhere on the planet. Their bravery meant vital supply routes were never cut off.
“Today’s change of heart from the UK government means Arctic veterans will now receive the welcome, if long overdue, recognition their unstinting dedication and service for their country thoroughly deserves.
“It is shameful that it is only now, 67 years after the end of the convoys, that the UK government has decided to recognise the survivors with a dedicated campaign medal of their own.”