Council urged to fight for Arctic heroes

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MEMBERS of Hampshire County Council are backing Arctic Convoy war veterans in their long fight for recognition.

In a motion expected to be passed at a council meeting in Winchester today, Tory councillors Patricia West and Pamela Mutton urge the authority to petition the government to ‘acknowledge and honour the brave men who took part in the Arctic Convoys’.

It comes as the government carries out an independent review of the ageing heroes’ claims that they were passed over for a medal at the end of the Second World War.

The council motion says: ‘There are just a few survivors left and many have passed over without the recognition of their great sacrifices.

‘They were a few of the unsung heroes who kept our supply channels open and indeed, made it possible for the supply lines to be kept open between Great Britain and Russia.

‘In this, the Diamond Jubilee year, we feel it appropriate for these sacrifices to be acknowledged by the nation, who owe a great debt to these veterans.’

But the councillors suggest a compromise could be made by awarding an Arctic Bar to go on the veterans’ Atlantic Star campaign medal.

This is against the wishes of the Arctic veterans who have long argued that the convoys were separate from the Atlantic campaign 800 miles away.

Also, many of the Arctic veterans never received the Atlantic Star because it required six months’ service, which was not possible on the freezing runs to Russia.

Commander Eddie Grenfell, 92, of Portsea, who is the elected leader of the Arctic Medal Campaign, said: ‘We’re very grateful for the kind support from the county council, but we have previously said we will accept nothing less than an Arctic campaign medal.’

The Arctic Convoys, first ordered by Winston Churchill in 1941, saw 66,500 British sailors run a sub-zero gauntlet of Nazi planes and U-boats to keep the Soviet Union fighting in the war.

The gruelling supply missions cost the lives of 3,000 men.