Boost for Arctic medal campaign

Hang Thi

‘Concern’ as girl, 16, missing from Fareham

VETERANS fighting for a medal to recognise their heroic actions during the Second World War will have a party thrown in their honour at the House of Lords.

The 'Spirit of Russia' function in The Cholmondeley Room in February will highlight 70 years since the Arctic Convoys sailed in dangerous conditions to supply goods and ammunition to the Russian army fighting on the eastern front.

It marks a significant milestone for the Arctic Medal campaign, which calls for a medal for the men who risked their lives to keep the German army bogged down in fighting Russia - a key factor in defeating the Nazis.

Campaign leader, 90-year-old veteran Commander Eddie Grenfell, who lives in Portsea, said: 'It's tremendous that this event is going to be held to promote our campaign. Anything that helps us gain more supporters, particularly from Lords, is very exciting. We need to get our medals soon.'

For the last 15 years, Cdr Grenfell has fought for a medal in the Last Chance for Justice campaign backed by The News.

Supporters of the campaign have included former Conservative leaders Michael Howard and Iain Duncan Smith, who made pre-election promises that a medal would be awarded if the Tories came to power. Gerald Howarth, who is now a defence minister, also backs the campaign.

However, no such medal has been forthcoming since the coalition government was formed. The Ministry of Defence has put the decision on ice, saying the procedure for awarding medals is 'under review'.

This has angered Cdr Grenfell, who said: 'A promise is a promise. You don't need to review a promise.'

Support is growing from within the House of Lords.

TV personality Liz Brewer is also backing the campaign and has organised the event on February 14, which is being sponsored by Russian banker George Piskov and hosted by Lord Soley of Hammersmith.

Ms Brewer, who discovered she was a second cousin of Cdr Grenfell only after getting involved in the campaign, said: 'It's embarrassing these men have not been given a medal. Many of us might not be here today or could be living a very different type of life, had it not been for these courageous men.

'They deserve recognition.'