Veterans are ‘closer than ever’ to Arctic Convoy medal victory

Commander Eddie Grenfell
Commander Eddie Grenfell
Defence correspondent om Cotterill on the jet simulator

The News defence correspondent ‘lands’ jet on HMS Queen Elizabeth

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ARCTIC Convoy veterans believe they are closer than ever to winning their fight for a medal after meeting the man who will determine their fate.

Sir John Holmes, who is leading the government’s independent review of the medals system, travelled to Portsmouth to meet with the campaign leaders.

Sir John Holmes

Sir John Holmes

The former diplomat is to make his recommendations to Prime Minister David Cameron next month, who is expected to announce his decision over the 67-year medals dispute after parliament’s summer break.

War veteran Commander Eddie Grenfell, 92, of Portsea, who is the elected leader of the Arctic Medal Campaign, said: ‘I believe it’s more than odds-on now.

‘Sir John gave us a very fair hearing, there’s no doubt about that.

‘We discussed each and every point and I was able to prove the points we made by showing him all the documentary evidence we’ve built up over the years.

‘It was a very positive meeting.

‘Sir John worked in the British embassy in Moscow so he knows a lot about it all.

‘My feeling is if it’s up to Sir John Holmes and no-one else we’ll get something positive out of this.’

He added: ‘It’s one more step towards finally ending the injustice we have faced for so long.

‘There’s nothing more we can do now.

‘We’ve put forward our dossier of evidence and it’s been discussed with Sir John so we’ve done all we can.

‘I would say the odds are more than 50:50 in our favour now.’

Sir John has also met this week with Arctic Convoy supporters Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage and Penny Mordaunt, MP for Portsmouth North, who both reported positive meetings.

The convoys were ordered by Prime Minister Winston Churchill during the Second World War to supply the Soviet Union on the eastern front.

He called the missions ‘the worst journey in the world’.

Hundreds of ships sailed a freezing gauntlet to Russia under a barrage of attacks from German warplanes and U-boat wolf-packs.

Of the 66,500 British sailors involved, 3,000 lost their lives.

But successive British governments have refused to award the ageing Arctic veterans their own war medal in recognition of their efforts which historians say helped defeat Hitler.