Arctic Star for convoy heroes

VETERANS from the Second World War Arctic Convoys will begin receiving medals recognising their heroism and bravery “within weeks”, the Government has revealed.

Defence Minister Mark Francois announced that production of the new Arctic Star and a clasp for veterans of the RAF’s Bomber Command will start this week.

The move follows David Cameron’s announcement in December that he was accepting the recommendations of a review of military decorations by the former diplomat Sir John Holmes.

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A long-running campaign to honour the achievements of the seamen who kept open the vital supply routes to the Soviet Union in what Winston Churchill called “the worst journey in the world” had previously been rejected on grounds of protocol.

Up to 250,000 veterans and the families of those who have died could now be eligible to receive the awards from as early as next month.

Priority will be given to applications from veterans and widows. Other next of kin will also able to apply and will receive their awards shortly afterwards.

Mr Francois said: “All those who served our country in Bomber Command and on the Arctic Convoys deserve nothing but the utmost respect and admiration from us. That’s why I am delighted that these special individuals will in the next few weeks begin to receive the Bomber Command clasp and Arctic Star that they have so long deserved.

“I am also pleased to announce that the families of those no longer alive will also be able to apply for these awards in recognition of their loved ones’ bravery.”