WATCH: Navy veteran finally receives his Arctic Star
A HERO of the Arctic convoys who missed out on a medal because he was one degree too far south has finally been honoured for his service.
Edwin Leadbetter, 92, was almost ruled out of receiving the Arctic Star and the prestigious Ushakov Medal for his services to Russia in the hazardous voyages.
The MoD decided his ship was not eligible as it was deemed to have operated just outside the combat zone.
Fellow veterans had belatedly received medals – thanks to the long campaign for recognition run by veterans and The News – after being involved in the voyages dubbed ‘the most dangerous journey in the world’ by wartime prime minister Winston Churchill.
But Mr Leadbetter was left out, forcing his family to hit out at the snub.
Defence chiefs eventually performed a U-turn and more than 70 years after his service, the veteran has finally been honoured for his role.
Mr Leadbetter received the Arctic Star, the Arctic emblem and his veteran’s badge, during a ceremony at the Govan shipyard in his home city of Glasgow.
He said: ‘It has been a long wait, but I’m over the moon.’
Mr Leadbetter served on HMS Fencer from March to October 1944, providing cover for convoys and for attacks on German battleship Tirpitz.
His daughter Liz McKenna said: ‘He applied years ago but the MoD said his ship was one degree of latitude out and so he didn’t qualify for the medals.’
‘It’s rubbish, as the ship was heavily involved in the Arctic convoys. But he is delighted to finally get it.
‘He was very proud and the Navy were lovely to him.
‘They even presented him with a bottle of limited edition Arctic convoy whisky. It was a lovely day and he is as proud as punch.’
More than 3,000 seamen died during the Arctic missions to keep supply lines open to Soviet ports as they fought Hitler’s armies.
Mr Leadbetter’s shipmate George Barker, who also served on the anti-submarine escort carrier HMS Fencer, got the Ushakov medal three years ago.
Mr Barker died a week after receiving his medal.