UK bans Arctic convoy veterans from receiving medals from Russia
The Russian Government seeks to recognize the "brave and valuable" service provided by the Arctic convoy veterans and honor more than 400 veterans with the Ushakov Medal. However, the UK Foreign Office has said that it would violate British rules to accept Russia's medals because the veterans are in line to receive a British medal for their service, and because the events took place more than five years ago.
Britain's Foreign Office said in an official statement that it greatly appreciates the Russian Government's wish to recognize the veterans, but the rules on accepting foreign awards are clear.
Prime Minister David Cameron said last year that the Arctic Convoy veterans would be honored with a medal, but officials say the details are still being worked out.
Meanwhile, British veterans are piqued at by Britain's decision to keep them from accepting bravery medals offered by Russia.
"I honestly feel sore about it," said Reay Clarke, 89, who risked his life on World War II Arctic convoys. "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.'"
The convoys helped to bring vital equipment to Soviet troops fighting a desperate battle against Hitler's troops on the eastern front. The weapons they delivered included more than 7,500 fighter planes and 5,000 anti-tank guns. Experts believe some 3,000 sailors died in the voyages. They faced attacks from German U-boats and bombers and were also subjected to extreme cold and ice. Britain's wartime leader Winston Churchill called the voyage from northern Scotland to Russia's northern ports "the worse journey in the world".
In 2010, a group of British veterans did receive Russian commemorative medals for their participation in the convoys aboard.
Voice of Russia, the Daily Mail, the Denver Post, Kentucky.com
The UK government has remained adamant in its refusal to let British veterans of Arctic convoys receive Russia’s Ushakov medals for their contribution to delivering humanitarian aid to the Soviet Union during World War Two.
The Foreign Office reiterated its stance today after British media reported it had sent a letter in the early 2013 to British vets, many of whom are over 80 years old, saying they were not permitted to get these overdue rewards.
In December 2012, British Prime Minister David Cameron told the press Britain would honour the bravery of Arctic convoy veterans with its own medals, revising its earlier claims that no such rewards were needed.
The change of mind followed a survey by British diplomat John Holmes, who Mr. Cameron tasked with reviewing the UK policy on military medals.
Voice of Russia, TASS