Saturday, January 12, 2013

Journey's end for Arctic heroes

LOCAL HEROES who risked their lives in the Arctic Convoys of the Second World War 70 years ago will be rewarded with a medal from the British Government.

The announcement by Prime Minister David Cameron was welcomed this week by Eccleshall Arctic Convoy veteran Donald Gray, Stone MP Bill Cash and Joyce Farnham, president of Stone’s Royal British Legion women’s branch.

Councillor Farnham’s campaign to honour the Arctic Convoy veterans was featured in the Newsletter last year.

She said: “It’s excellent news and everybody is so delighted about it. I think there are only about 200 veterans left but it is better late than never.”

Mr Cash paid tribute to Councillor Farnham’s efforts and John Caudwell’s financial support for a memorial for Bomber Command, unveiled in London last year.

He said: “I am delighted that both the Arctic Convoy veterans and Bomber Command are at last being honoured.”

Mr Gray, 89, embarked on six perilous Arctic Convoy missions between 1944 and 1945. He endured freezing conditions to escort vital supply ships through Arctic waters to Russia.

He was awarded the Russian Medal by the Russian Government in 1988 but it took 62 years for the British Government to issue an Arctic Badge, let alone a medal.

Wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill described the convoy route as “the worst journey in the world”.

Mr Gray said: “I was pleased to hear they are going to issue a medal – we have waited for 70 years.”

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