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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 October 2006, 14:19 GMT 15:19 UK
Arctic convoy veterans honoured
Arctic Convoy veteran Commander Eddie Grenfell
Cdr Eddie Grenfell campaigned for recognition for the veterans
The first veterans of the World War II Arctic convoys have received a special award to mark their bravery.

Arctic Emblems were presented in ceremonies on HMS Belfast, in London, and HMS Ark Royal, in Rosyth, Fife.

Veterans have long campaigned for their part in getting vital supplies to the then Soviet Union to be recognised.

About 5,000 veterans and next of kin of those who died will receive the emblem from the Veterans' Agency over the course of the weekend.

'Very happy'

Among the armed forces and Merchant Navy veterans to receive the award on HMS Belfast from new Veterans' Minister Derek Twigg was 86-year-old Commander Eddie Grenfell, who was instrumental in the campaign for recognition.

Cdr Grenfell, of Havant, Hampshire, said: "We are very happy with the outcome but the only question that we have is why did we have to wait so long? It should have been done right at the beginning."

Arctic Emblem
The Arctic Emblem marks the crucial role played by the convoys

He campaigned for a medal rather than an emblem to be awarded but a decision was made in 1946 not to create any more medals for WWII campaigns.

Ten veterans received their emblems in the ceremony on HMS Ark Royal.

Scotland's top Royal Navy officer, Rear Admiral Philip Wilcocks, said: "To say that they were crucial to the outcome of the war is not an understatement."

The convoys managed to deliver 12,755 tanks, 22,200 aircraft and 375,800 trucks, as well as four million tons of ammunition and other supplies to the USSR.

RAF planes and Army gunners on board defended the ships from German attacks from air and sea.

Mr Twigg said: "The Arctic Emblem is a mark of the nation's gratitude for incredible achievements in difficult and dangerous conditions."

Arctic veterans march for medal
15 May 04 |  London

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