Nato medals set to be awarded for Libyan conflict

HOMECOMING HMS Liverpool arrives back at Portsmouth dockyard for the final time in March to be decommissioned. Picture: Allan Hutchings (121076-155)
HOMECOMING HMS Liverpool arrives back at Portsmouth dockyard for the final time in March to be decommissioned. Picture: Allan Hutchings (121076-155)

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AS golds continue to flow for Britain’s athletes at the Olympic Games, thousands of UK servicemen and women look set to receive a medal of their own.

The News can reveal discussions are being held about awarding a Nato medal to personnel involved in the war in Libya last year.

British warships and aircraft delivered humanitarian aid, rescued refugees and enforced the United Nations’ no-fly zone as rebel forces fought to overthrow Colonel Gaddafi’s regime.

Nato is keen for its Libyan operational medal to be awarded in the UK and the Ministry of Defence is holding talks about who will be eligible for the award.

One source suggested just a day’s service could suffice – but a final decision will have to be approved by the Queen this autumn.

It comes after the US department of defense gave its approval for a Nato medal to be worn by American personnel involved in the Libya operations.

An MoD spokesman confirmed: ‘There is a Nato medal and we are in the process of looking at the application for British service personnel to wear it as well, but no decision has been made as of yet.’

Among those in line for the medal would be sailors from Portsmouth-based HMS Liverpool, which became the first UK warship since the first Gulf War to come under enemy fire during her 207 days of patrols off the Libyan coast.

Other Portsmouth-based ships HMS Brocklesby, York, Westminster and Iron Duke may also be honoured.

Nato appeared to be pushing for a Libya medal to be awarded to UK military personnel last night.

Spokesman Tony White said: ‘We would be thrilled if nations recognise the commitment to an operation that was in our eyes very successful and saved thousands of lives.

‘The Royal Navy in particular did an outstanding job and I would go as far as to say they were the unsung heroes. From a humanitarian point of view, what the navy did to keep those ports open in Misrata is a story that needs to be told because that saved the country.’

The former head of the navy, Admiral Lord West, said: ‘The general trend has been for Nato to produce a medal for operations of this kind and it would be appropriate to have a medal.

‘The criteria will have to be carefully looked at but certainly ships which operated close to the coast deserve a medal.’

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt added: ‘It would be great if their contribution is recognised.

‘It was a dangerous theatre and there was a great range of roles, particularly from the navy.

‘It was a hell of an achievement and it would be right to mark that.’

NAVY IN LIBYA

Royal Navy involvement in Libya

· HMS ALBION Command Ship

· HMS BANGOR Sandown Class Minehunter

· HMS BROCKLESBY Hunt Class Minehunter

· HMS CUMBERLAND Type 22 Frigate

· HMS IRON DUKE Type 23 Frigate

· HMS LIVERPOOL Type 42 Destroyer

· HMS OCEAN Helicopter Carrier

· HMS SUTHERLAND Type 23 Frigate

· HMS TRIUMPH Trafalgar Class Submarine

· HMS TURBULENT Trafalgar Class Submarine

· HMS WESTMINSTER Type 23 Frigate

· HMS YORK Type 42 Destroyer

· RFA ARGUS Casualty/Aviation Ship

· RFA FORT ROSALIE Stores Replenishment Ship

· RFA ORANGELEAF Replenishment Tanker

· RFA WAVE KNIGHT Fast Fleet Tanker

New honour ‘painful’ for snubbed Arctic vets

VETERAN medal campaigner Eddie Grenfell today praised the men and women who served in Libya – but said their medal brings the 67-year snub to Arctic Convoy heroes sharply into focus.

Commander Grenfell, 92, of Portsea, who fought in the Arctic during the Second World War, has been lobbying British governments for a medal for almost two decades.

He said: ‘I’m very happy to hear those people will be getting a medal for Libya, but I’m unhappy that we are still waiting for David Cameron to award a medal for a campaign that lasted for four long years in the Arctic. It’s painful.

‘The Prime Minister has the power to go straight to Her Majesty at any time and ask for an Arctic Medal but he doesn’t seem to want to do it.’

The Conservative Party had promised that an Arctic Star medal would be struck the next time they came to power.

But 27 months after the coalition government was formed, veterans are still waiting for yet another medal review to come to an end.