Arctic Star to be issued soon

The Arctic Star
The Arctic Star
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The long-awaited Arctic Star will be issued next month.

After 15 years of campaigning, veterans of the gruelling Arctic Convoys should be able to pin the medal they have waited so long for on their chests in a matter of weeks.

Defence minister Mark Francois announced today that the veteran sailors will at long last receive the Arctic Star medal in recognition of their bravery during the Second World War.

Production of the new Arctic Star will then start this week, with the first veterans expected to receive them next month.

Mr Francois said: ‘All those who served our country in Bomber Command and on the Arctic Convoys deserve nothing but the utmost respect and admiration from us. That’s why I am delighted that these special individuals will in the next few weeks begin to receive the Bomber Command clasp and Arctic Star that they have so long deserved.

‘I am also pleased to announce that the families of those no longer alive will also be able to apply for these awards in recognition of their loved one’s bravery.’

Prime Minister David Cameron announced in December that the News-backed campaign for an Arctic Convoy Star Medal had at last been won.

More than 3,000 sailors died between 1941 and 1945 running a sub-zero gauntlet of German warplanes and U-boats to keep Russia supplied and fighting during the war.

And Winston Churchill called it ‘the worst journey in the world’.

Backed by The News, 93-year-old Commander Eddie Grenfell of Portsmouth has been leading the campaign since 1997, but has been in hospital seriously ill with heart trouble since last month.

Commander Eddie Grenfell has been leading the campaign since 1997, but has been in hospital seriously ill with heart trouble since last month.

But after some touch-and-go moments, the 93-year-old’s health is recovering and his daughter Trudie is hoping he can be discharged in the next few days.

The 64-year-old, from Southsea, said: ‘This really is great news about the medal.

‘Dad had been given indications that it would be in March, but you have to wait until you get the official word before you know it’s certain.’

‘They’ve got to get a move on with this though.

‘Too many veterans have died before we’ve got to this point and there shouldn’t be any more before they can get to wear those medals.

‘Dad had a really bad week last week, but he’s pulled through and he’s much better now and they are actually talking about releasing him.’

Living veterans and widows will be the first in line to receive the new awards.

Anyone who served for any length of time north of the Arctic Circle during the Second World War will be eligible for the new Arctic Star.

Priority for the new awards will be given to applications from veterans and widows.

Other next of kin are also able to apply and they will receive their awards shortly after veterans and widows.

At the same time as the announcement about the Arctic Star, Mr Cameron said there would also be a new clasp for Bomber Command.

Click here to read how the Government announced last December that the Arctic Medal would be awarded.

Click here for a British Forces News video on the Arctic Convoys campaign.