Fury as MoD tries to avoid issuing Arctic medals

NOT HAPPY Campaigner Eddie Grenfell took the fight for the Artic convoy medal to 10 Downing Street
NOT HAPPY Campaigner Eddie Grenfell took the fight for the Artic convoy medal to 10 Downing Street
Leading WEM Phil Phillips, from Fareham, waves to his wife, Lynne, in the crowd as HMS Liverpool returns home after seven months on duty

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DISGUSTED Second World War veterans who are fighting for a medal have been hit by a new snub from the Ministry of Defence.

Men who served in the vital Russian Convoys hoped the coalition government would finally give them a medal – especially as they have the support of Prime Minister David Cameron and senior Tories who made pre-election pledges to award an Arctic Star.

But papers seen by The News reveal MoD civil servants are stubbornly trying to stop a new medal from being created.

A recent recommendation sent to Mr Cameron’s office said: ‘It is not considered that there is any case for revisiting this issue.’

The draft document, which forms part of a wider review into war medals, comes as a bitter blow to the ageing veterans who braved German gunfire in sub-zero conditions to supply the Soviet Union.

‘What the Ministry of Defence is doing is outrageous,’ said Commander Eddie Grenfell, the 91-year-old leader of the Arctic Medal campaign who lives in Portsea.

He added: ‘We have fought for a medal for many years and it seems the same people in the MoD are always dead against us.’

Three thousand men lost their lives in the Russian Convoys, which historians say were key to securing an Allied victory because they kept Nazi forces stretched across two fronts.

After a hard-fought campaign backed by The News, an Arctic Star lapel badge was awarded in 2006.

But campaigners still want a proper medal.

The MoD says they have had enough recognition and suggests 190,000 medals would need to be made at a cost of ‘up to £12.3m’.

Cdr Grenfell called the MoD’s figures ‘widely inaccurate’ and said historical figures show just under 70,000 British sailors fought in the Russian Convoys.

He said: ‘No doubt they’ve done this to exaggerate the cost of striking a new medal. How they have the neck to stick to this nonsense is criminal.’

The MoD was unable to explain how it arrived at the 190,000 figure yesterday.

The draft document was sent to Mr Cameron in March. It is understood he ordered the MoD to send it to medal campaigners to consult them on the proposals and veterans have until June 30 to reply.

There is no known deadline for when the review, which started one year ago, will eventually conclude.