One rule for some and another for Arctic veterans

Commander Eddie Grenfell at The Royal Naval War Memorial on Southsea Common''Picture: Malcolm Wells (112873-1909)
Commander Eddie Grenfell at The Royal Naval War Memorial on Southsea Common''Picture: Malcolm Wells (112873-1909)

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A RULE that has denied Arctic Convoy veterans that chance to get a medal for valour will not be waived – despite it being bent in the past.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office says the veterans of the World War Two conflict cannot receive the Ushakov medal for valour from the Russian government because their conflict happened more than five years ago.

It also says no medals from foreign governments will be permitted if there has already been an award – of any kind – given by the British government for the same conflict.

But veterans of a conflict in Malaysia in the 1960s were allowed to wear the Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal, given to them by the Malaysian government in recognition of their service.

Not only was that conflict 50 years ago, but the veterans of it had also previously been given a medal from the British government.

Commander Eddie Grenfell, who has led a 15-year campaign for an Arctic medal to be given to the veterans, said the Foreign Office had written to him with no explanation for the difference in decisions, saying only that awarding the PJM medal ‘has no bearing on the case for the acceptance and wearing of other foreign awards’.

An Arctic Medal review concluded the awarding of the PJM Medal was ‘politically and diplomatically’ motivated.

Cdr Grenfell, 92, said: ‘People who have never heard a shot fired in their lives and enjoy a comfortable existence because of veterans of World War Two, and who are blocking this award – it’s appalling.’

Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock added: ‘I’m going to be writing to both David Cameron and William Hague about this.

‘The system is wrong, and the five-year rule is an insult when the country they were going to help has doubly recognised them.’

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office accepted the rules had been waived once, but said that it had to treat all World War Two veterans the same or else be faced with thousands of medal requests.

He added: ‘We know that we’ve done the right thing for this.’