Secret Scotland

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Arctic Convoy veterans finally receive Arctic Star medal

Arctic Star medal

Arctic Star medal – Crown Copyright via Royal Navy

It’s a little unfortunate that almost every story relating to the presentation of the Arctic Star medal to veterans of the Arctic Convoys is accompanied by some reference or other to their 70-year fight to have their efforts recognised in this way. However, it is also probably fair to include that reference, since it also pays tribute to their tenacity over that period, and the efforts of those who supported them.

We haven’t been able to do much, but we have been able to mention the convoys and their preparation at Loch Ewe, prior to departure on what was described as “The worst journey in the World”, and where efforts are still ongoing to create a permanent museum to the convoys and the men who made them possible. Loch Ewe is also the place where a dwindling number of veterans assemble to mark the convoys each year, with as few as 40 being expected to make the trip there in 2013.

An exhibition is currently on show in Edinburgh Castle’s War Museum, Arctic Convoys: 1941-45, running from May 24, 2013 until March of 2014: Exhibition to give front-row seat on ‘worst journey in the world’ taken by Arctic convoys

There is even a distinctly Scottish connection to this award, as it seems that the veteran behind the medal campaign is a Scot originating from Montrose:

The leading figure behind the campaign to award the Arctic Star medal has had his award presented at a special ceremony.

Commander Eddie Grenfell, now 93, was too ill to travel to main presentation in London so his award was instead presented in Hampshire.

Mr Grenfell was born in Montrose, Scotland, but left at the age of 16 when he joined the Royal Navy and made Portsmouth his home.

He has lobbied tirelessly for 16 years for the medal to be created and was the first veteran to receive the star.

After the decision was made last December to award the star, the government was urged to act quickly because of the advancing age and ill-health of Mr Grenfell as well as other veterans.

Mr Grenfell was only released from hospital three weeks ago where he had been since last October.

He has suffered a heart attack and two cardiac arrests but managed to build up enough strength to attend Tuesday’s ceremony.

The chief of the defence staff general Sir David Richards attended the special event at the Mayor’s Parlour at Portsmouth Guildhall, Hampshire, to award Mr Grenfell.

The head of the UK armed forces had personally requested to attend the event to recognise Mr Grenfell’s lobbying efforts as well as his service on four of the Arctic convoys to Russia.

Mr Grenfell’s campaign gained massive popular support with a petition of 42,000 signatures being handed to Downing Street in 2004 as well as gaining support from local MPs.

Via Scots veteran Eddie Grenfell first to receive Arctic Star medal | Dundee & Tayside | News | STV

Also Convoy veterans given first Arctic Star medals

And Video: Bomber Command veteran welcomes ‘late honour’

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March 19, 2013 - Posted by | military, Naval, World War II | , , ,

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