Veterans start a final push to get the medal they’ve waited for

BRAVE Bill Sheppard, Commander Eddie Grenfell, George Shreeve, Jock Dempster and Lieutenant Commander Dick Dykes at the House of Lords reception held in their honour last night
BRAVE Bill Sheppard, Commander Eddie Grenfell, George Shreeve, Jock Dempster and Lieutenant Commander Dick Dykes at the House of Lords reception held in their honour last night
The Russian destroyer Vice Admiral Kulakov as seen from HMS Somerset in the Moray Firth

Royal Navy ship shadows a Russian destroyer

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VETERANS of the Arctic Convoys in the Second World War will find out within weeks whether they will be awarded a medal for their bravery.

A senior government source told The News last night that the decision would be made soon.

The veterans were given a huge boost in their campaign with a party thrown in their honour at the House of Lords last night.

After almost seven decades of being snubbed by British leaders, six aging survivors of the Arctic Convoys – who sailed through horrendous conditions to supply the Red Army – were the guests of honour at the ‘Spirit of Russia’ bash.

The event left the veterans more hopeful than ever that they will finally be given a war medal.

Arctic Medal campaign leader Eddie Grenfell, 91, of Portsea, said: ‘It would be wonderful if we can get a medal after all this time. With so many people here, the hope must be that we can get something positive.

‘We have had assurances from three senior politicians in the Conservative party in the past that we will get a medal and now that there is a Conservative government we must get our medal. We cannot go on waiting.’

Jock Dempster from Dumbarton in Scotland said: ‘It’s a big step forward.

‘I feel sorry for some of the older guys who have recently died.

‘People like Bill Short, who died a few weeks ago aged 91, went through the Arctic Convoys and he lost both his legs and he lived his whole life without any recognition for what he gave for his country. We must now get a medal for people like him.’

Russian businessman George Piskov, who sponsored last night’s event, said: ‘I’m honoured to see the veterans of the Arctic Convoys at the House of Lords. It was a part of our curriculum at school when I was a boy growing up in Russia. I learnt about the co-operation between the UK and the Soviet Union in the Second World War and learnt a lot about the convoys. The Russian people are very grateful to these brave seamen who brought us tanks, artillery and food supplies. It helped our country enormously. I do hope that the present government will finally make the decision to award an appropriate medal to these veterans because they all thoroughly deserve it.’

Before the party, four of the veterans went to Downing Street to hand in a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, calling for a medal to be awarded immediately.