Arctic Star campaign leader Eddie Grenfell dies aged 93

James Rhodes from Waterlooville with the medal he and his surviving shipmates have have been awarded for their work on the supply convoys which helped The Netherlands during the second world war     
Picture Ian Hargreaves  (181100-1)

Merchant navy veteran ‘elated’ with war medal after seven-decade battle for recognition

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Eddie Grenfell, the retired naval commander who fought for years to win recognition for his fellow heroes of the Arctic Convoys, has died.

The 93-year-old passed away at 8am today at his daughter’s Southsea home.

Commander Eddie Grenfell  pictured with the Arctic Star presented to him at Portsmouth Guildhall in March, 2013

Commander Eddie Grenfell pictured with the Arctic Star presented to him at Portsmouth Guildhall in March, 2013

His death comes only three months after the veteran campaigner received his Arctic Star medal, following a long and often bitter fight for recognition which spanned nearly two decades.

Today, tributes poured in to the man who inspired thousands with his crusade.

Among accolades in the political world, Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt said: ‘My thoughts are with Cdr Grenfell’s family and his friends. It was a privilege to have known him: he was the real deal, a hero in every sense.’

At The News, tributes from journalists past and present were led by the editor, Mark Waldron, who described Eddie as a ‘truly remarkable and inspirational man.’

Military tributes included one from Britain’s most senior officer, Chief of Defence Staff General Sir David Richards, from whom Eddie received his medal at Portsmouth Guildhall on March 19.

Since then, Arctic Convoy survivors around the country have been presented with their medals thanks to the 16-year campaign for justice run by Eddie and his colleagues with support from The News.

Only yesterday, 25 veterans were presented with the Arctic Star at the Armed Forces Day parade in Portsmouth.

Eddie won his last battle earlier this month when the Government announced that veterans of the Arctic Convoys who risked their lives to get supplies to Russia in the Second World War would finally been allowed to wear a medal of valour.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has made a U-turn over the Ushakov medal, which a grateful Russian nation wanted to award the veterans in May last year.

In May, Eddie was honoured for his unwavering efforts to secure fellow veterans a medal.

He was awarded the inaugural Churchill Award for Contribution to Charity.

In one of his last interviews with The News, filmed last December in the video replayed here, Eddie spoke of his pride that the long campaign for recognition had finally been won.

These were the defining moments of the 16-year campaign for a medal for Arctic veterans.

January 1997: Veterans start their campaign backed by The News which presents a 16,000-name petition to then-Prime Minister John Major.

May 1997:Major backs defence minister Nicholas Soames in rejecting the request for amedal.

October 2001: MPs ask the government for a rethink.

November 2002: Prime Minister Tony Blair promises case ‘under review’.

January 5, 2004: The News launches the Last Chance For Justice campaign

January 12, 2004: More than 1,600 sign petition in first week.

May 2004: Blair reveals a review has been dismissed.

June 2004: Arctic heroes receive medals from Russia.

July 2004: MPs come out in support of the campaign.

March 2005: Arctic veterans attend a reception at 10 Downing Street where they are offered an Arctic Emblem.

January 2011: Responding to a question from Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage, Prime Minister David Cameron pledges that more must be done to recognise Arctic Convoy veterans.

June 2011: Cdr Grenfell confronts veterans minister Andrew Robathan about breaking the pre-election pledge of a campaign medal.

November 2011: The government announces its intention to launch an independent medal review.

March 2012: Cdr Grenfell suffers a heart attack after picking up a medalfor bravery.

August 2012: Russian Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko says his government wants to award veterans with the prestigious Medal of Ushakov but the offer is blocked by the Foreign Office.

December 2012: David Cameron announces the creation of the Arctic Convoy Star Medal.