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Wednesday, 7 August, 2002, 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK
War veterans denied medals
Veterans at the Cenotaph, London on Remembrance Sunday
The decision has angered some veterans
Hundreds of British veterans of the Arctic convoys of the Second World War are to miss out on medals from Russia because the Ministry of Defence says it will not allow it.

Moscow wants to award the 1,600 surviving Royal and Merchant Navy sailors with bravery medals for their part in keeping supply lines open on the Eastern front.


They (the MoD) have no idea of the hell we went through

Commander Eddie Grenfell, veteran

The veterans are furious they have been denied the honour but officials here say it breaks the rules, and the medals cannot be given.

It is understood the medals would be the same as those presented to Soviet sailors.

But the MoD confirmed the British veterans would not be allowed to accept any medals because it does not fall within the rules of such presentations.

A spokeswoman said: "The acceptance and wearing of foreign awards is subject to the rules agreed by Her Majesty the Queen on the recommendation of the Honours and Decorations Committee (of the Cabinet Office).

"These rules do not permit the acceptance and wearing of medals for services rendered in the distant past, ie over five years previously."

Veteran wearing medals
MoD rules govern the wearing of medals

One veteran, Commander Eddie Grenfell, from Havant, Hants, told The Daily Telegraph: "These decisions are made by people who've never seen a shot fired in anger. They have no idea of the hell we went through.

"We veterans are dismayed and disgusted by the Government's ungrateful attitude."

The Artic convoys helped carry around 22,000 aircraft and 13,000 tanks during the battles on the Eastern Front and were widely seen in helping tip the balance in favour of the Allies.

Conservative defence spokesman Keith Simpson said the MoD was being "pedantic" applying the rules to veterans who served in "appalling conditions and survived".

He added: "The Russian Government has seen fit to acknowledge their bravery. Our government should now do the same."

See also:

21 Jan 98 | Gulf War Syndrome
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