Cameron gives Arctic medal campaigners a huge boost

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THE campaign for veterans to be finally awarded with a medal for their role in the Arctic Convoys has received a massive boost from the Prime Minister.

David Cameron today pledged that more must be done to recognise their efforts during the Second World War.

Responding to a question from Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage, Mr Cameron said he had 'considerable sympathy' with the campaign and had raised a 'number of questions' with the MoD.

He added: 'Many of them (veterans) are coming to the end of their lives and it would be good if we could do something more to recognise what they have done.'

Mr Cameron's support comes on the back of a 15-year campaign backed by The News and led by Portsmouth-based Arctic convoy veteran Commander Eddie Grenfell, 90.

Thousands of men sailed the gauntlet of German air, ship and submarine attack in sub-zero conditions to keep the Soviet Union supplied and in the war.

Their brave efforts are credited with bogging German forces down on the Eastern Front - a key factor in the eventual Allied victory.

However, the veterans have never received a proper campaign medal for their role in the war.

In 2005, the then Labour government awarded the veterans an Arctic Star emblem, a lapel badge to be worn with other medals. But campaigners have fought on for a full medal.

The campaign has won wide support within parliament and senior Conservative MPs, including former party leaders Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard, made pre-election promises when they were in opposition that a medal would be awarded if the Tories came to power.

Since the formation of the coalition government, a groundswell of political support has grown again for the veterans to finally receive a medal.

This led to Tory Ms Dinenage's asking the question of Mr Cameron today.

She called on her leader to award a medal, telling him: 'The time to act is now.'

She welcomed Mr Cameron's comments and said: 'This matter should be dealt with quickly so that as many brave veterans as possible can finally receive the medal, and the recognition, that they deserve.'