DCSIMG

The decades of delay that have shamed our country

Eddie Grenfell is a hero. So too were the 20,000 other brave men who sailed in the Arctic Convoys of the Second World War.

We bandy about all too easily these days the word ‘hero’, but those men lived up to its true meaning, in spades.

Let’s go back to basics and remember what these men achieved. They ensured the Soviet Union was kept supplied and able to repel the Germans as they opened up a second front. Success in the east helped bring about Allied victory. Europe today would probably be unimaginable without their heroism.

They braved a daily gauntlet of German U-boats, bombers and freezing temperatures to ensure the supplies got through.

Almost 3,000 Royal Navy and Merchant Navy men perished in the Arctic between 1941 and 1945.

But the sailors who endured what Winston Churchill called ‘the worst journey in the world’ had never been rewarded with a medal by any British government. Until yesterday.

It was outrageous and we have said so for 15 long years of campaigning alongside Commander Grenfell to win recognition for the men who sacrificed so much to give us the freedom we take for granted today.

It seemed such a simple decision to make, one which should have been taken in the immediate aftermath of the war. It should not have taken 67 years.

But it would never have happened had it not been for Cdr Grenfell. He is a man we at The News are genuinely proud to know, a man whose energy, passion and sense of justice would be remarkable for a 24-year-old, let alone a 92-year-old.

He knows what it is to fight... and win. He defied medical science by surviving for 10 minutes in the icy Arctic waters when his ship was sunk.

But, as he is the first to admit, yesterday’s triumph is bitter-sweet. The greatest shame about finally winning the medal is that so few of his comrades will be around to wear it with pride.

David Cameron might at long last have done the right thing, but the decades of delay have shamed Britain.

 

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