IT’S been a long wait for Commander Eddie Grenfell but after 16 years of campaigning he will soon have his hands on a medal.
As a veteran of the Arctic Convoys, Cdr Grenfell is one of many who didn’t receive a medal in recognition of their bravery during the Second World War.
Cdr Grenfell has been leading the campaign since 1997, but has been in hospital seriously ill with heart trouble since last month.
But Defence minister Mark Francois announced that the veteran sailors will at long last receive the Arctic Star medal.
‘It’s been 16 years of absolute frustration,’ Cdr Grenfell said.
‘We were only kids. We were only 22 years of age. It was absolute hell. And we didn’t think we would have to fight to get British recognition.
‘It feels good now. After 16 years we’ve been successful. It’s a beautiful medal.
‘I will be delighted, however, I think of all my chums who are no longer with us, and then I am angry. They had to wait and then nothing happened.’
Cdr Grenfell added that there is only one place he wants to receive his medal.
‘I insisted it should be done here in Portsmouth because it’s the people of Portsmouth who have helped me all the way along,’ he said.
‘Not only The News, but the MP’s and the people of Portsmouth have all helped me and therefore I have said what I want. I want it done in The Guildhall.’
Production of the new Arctic Star has already started, with the ﬁrst veterans expected to receive them next month. It has been designed by the Royal Mint advisory committee and is based on the Second World War Star.
More than 3,000 sailors died between 1941 and 1945 running a sub-zero gaunt-let of German warplanes and U-boats to keep Russia supplied and ﬁghting during the war.
HOW AND WHERE TO GET YOUR MEDAL
PRODUCTION for the medals has already begun.
They are being made at The Royal Mint in Llantrisant near Cardiff.
Those eligible for the new Bomber Command clasp will have previously qualified for the 1939 to 1945 Star, to which the clasp will be affixed.
There is an additional requirement to have flown at least one operational sortie as aircrew on a Bomber Command operational unit.
Those eligible for the new Arctic Star are all those who served for any length of time north of the Arctic Circle in World War II.
Eligible veterans and next of kin are now encouraged to apply for the new awards. Details and an application form can be found at veterans-uk.info or by calling 08457 800 900.
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 afterwards.