COMMANDER Eddie Grenfell has been presented with the first Arctic Star medal to loud applause at a ceremony in Portsmouth.
The Arctic Convoy veteran was presented with his medal in the Lord Mayor’s parlour by General Sir David Richards the Chief of the Defence Staff, in recognition of his heroic efforts on the arctic missions during the Second World War.
It was presented in front of family and friends after a 16-year campaign.
Cdr Grenfell said he had fought a campaign against injustice. He received a personal letter from the Prime Minister David Cameron at the ceremony today.
Cdr Grenfell paid tribute to the PM saying he had played his part in achieving success for the veterans.
‘He has always supported our claim but was hampered by civil service bureaucracy just as I was,’ said Cdr Grenfell. ‘I’m just sad that so many of my colleagues are no longer with us to receive their medals.
‘But I am pleased that this first Arctic Star is being presented to me in Portsmouth where people have fought so hard to help us.’
Sir David Richards said Cdr Grenfell and his colleagues had fought with fortitude and bravery in the war and again in their battle for recognition.
He said: ‘I’m delighted both personally and professionally to present the very first Arctic Star on behalf of the Queen, the armed forces and indeed the whole nation.’
The General pinned the medal to Eddie’s chest to tumultuous applause in the Lord Mayor’s parlour.
Before ceremony, Cmdr Grenfell spoke of anger at how long fight had taken. ‘I have written to David Cameron asking that all decisions about military medals ate taken out of the hands of civil servants and put into the hands of an all party committee of MPs who are answerable to the electorate’
Veterans of one of the harshest and most important campaigns of the war finally won recognition for their bravery after a seven-decade wait, with the announcement of the Arctic campaign medal in December.
They fought a determined campaign, supported by The News, which was often bitter.
It is thought between 200 and 400 sailors – who are all now in their late 80s at least – are alive today to receive the medals.