Conflict & Justice

British Arctic Convoy veterans won't be allowed to accept Russian medals (VIDEO)


Ice forming on a 20-inch signal projector on the cruiser HMS SHEFFIELD whilst she is helping to escort an Arctic convoy to Russia in December, 1941.


Coote, R G G (Lt), Royal Navy official photographer

Thousands of British men died during the Arctic Convoys of World War II, as they heroically ran weapons and supplies to Russia's Red Army via the North Atlantic — fending off constant attacks from German forces in a run that Winston Churchill dubbed "The Worst Journey in the World."

Now, Russia wants to honor 400 surviving men of the Arctic convoy with the Ushakov medal for bravery — but the British government has other ideas about the honor, reports the Washington Post.

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A technicality that no medal may be awarded more than five years after the heroic event has kept many men from receiving honors, and the British government insists that a native medal for their services is coming soon, writes the Voice of Russia.

In December, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the surviving men would receive the Arctic Convoy star for their service, but the honor has not yet been awarded, says the Guardian.

According to the Veterans UK website, the British government has repeatedly rebuffed Russian attempts to reward these men with a medal, beginning in the 1980s.

"I honestly feel sore about it," said 89-year-old Reay Clarke to the Telegraph.

"I think it's disgraceful that we can't just say yes to the Russians and tell them to go ahead and issue the medal. I think they are kind and thoughtful to remember what we did. We should just say, 'Thank you very much'."

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The Russian Convoy Museum writes that 3,000 young men perished during the Arctic Convoy's 1941 to 1945 run, while 7,411 aircraft, 4,932 anti-tank guns and 5,218 tanks were transported to the Red Army, aiding them in their defense against Germany.

Meanwhile, the aging survivors may have to continue their wait for recognition of their completion of the "Worst Journey in the World," a whopping 68 years after the war's end.