Fury as government bars Britain's Arctic heroes from accepting Russian bravery medal
The British Arctic convoy heroes who risked their lives to transport crucial supplies to Russia have been told they cannot accept a medal for valour from the country. The Russian Embassy wrote to survivors of the perilous sea campaign - who saw 3,000 of their comrades killed - to inform them it intended to award them with the Medal of Ushakov. But the British Foreign Office has blocked the plans to honour Britain's Arctic heroes, because it said it would break rules surrounding the acceptance of medals. Russia has already awarded the Ushakov medal to veterans from Australia, Canada and the U.S. for their role in the Arctic convoys. Commander Eddie Grenfell, 92, who has been lobbying the British government to introduce a specific Arctic medal for the past 15 years, expressed disbelief at this latest blow.
Arctic Convoys: A new TV show remembers the sailors who took on U-boats to supply Russia for battle
They were less glamorous than the fighter pilots who won us the Battle of Britain, and less celebrated than the troops who stormed the Normandy beaches on D-Day. But the sailors and airmen who navigated the Arctic convoys, running the gauntlet of German U-boats and bombers to ferry tanks and equipment to Russia, were just as crucial to the eventual Allied defeat of Nazi Germany. One in six Allied ships was struck and sunk, leading to the loss of 3,000 British seamen.
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British minister's astonishing insult to Arctic convoy heroes: We don't just dole out medals like Colonel Gaddafi
British minister Andrew Robathan likened the campaign for Arctic convoy medals to Colonel Gaddafi being "covered in" honours. He angered WW2 veterans by saying Britain did not "throw around" honours like the Libyan tyrant and Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. The Tory defence minister said the UK only awarded medals for "risk and rigour". Robathan made the marks as those who risked their lives on what Winston Churchill described as "the worst journey in the world", took their fight for a medal to Westminster. More than 3,000 UK sailors died to keep the Soviet Union supplied and fighting on the Eastern Front. Of 1,400 ships on 78 convoys, 85 merchant and 16 Royal Navy vessels perished 1941-1945.
Survivors of Britain's Arctic convoys tell of the horrific conditions they faced (good photos)
The intense cold was what they remembered most vividly. Out on deck, with the sea below at -60 degrees and the air around you not much warmer, eyebrows and eyelashes froze. And that wasn't all. "Hair in our noses froze solid like needles. Many men came off watch with faces covered in blood where they had rubbed their noses without thinking," one veteran of the Arctic convoys recalled. Thousands of Allied sailors endured these fearful conditions as they manned the convoys that battled through the North Atlantic and the Arctic Sea to carry supplies to Soviet Russia, helping the Red Army to continue the fight against Nazi Germany.
Producer of documentary film "The Worst Journey in the World" calls the treatment of Arctic Convoy veterans "disgrace"
A filmmaker has described the treatment of WWII Arctic Convoy veterans as 'disgraceful' after making a documentary marking the ordeal of the servicemen. Des Cox, Producer of documentary, "the Worst Journey in the World", says servicemen on convoy ships bound for the Soviet Union endured extreme conditions but have never received any recognition for the sacrifices they made: "The people that served never received a medal. It's disgraceful. In every other area of the military people have received the recognition they deserve. These boys were just 15 or 16 in many cases."
World War II Arctic convoy veterans recall dangerous journey
In the centre of Arkhangelsk stands a curious monument: a Mark V British tank dating back to just after the Russian Revolution. Many see it as a symbol of western interventionism. It was captured after British-led forces had landed in Russia to try to fight the Bolsheviks. 20 years later, British tanks were heading back to Arkhangelsk (Archangel). But this time, the Russians were delighted to see them. The tanks, together with fighter planes, raw materials and food, were among a string of emergency supplies to the Soviets. But to get the goods to northern Russia, convoys of ships had to steer a treacherous course from the UK through the icy waters of the Arctic Ocean. Winston Churchill described it as "the worst journey in the world".
USS Kearny was hit by a U-boat torpedo - but crew kept her afloat - in 1941, before WWII officially began
In 1941 the USS Kearny, a Gleaves-class destroyer, was assigned to convoy duty from Iceland to Murmansk. Howard Blackmon recalls: "We received a call that a convoy to Murmansk was under attack by German U-boats. We were dispatched ... to the ship under attack. We arrived on Oct. 16, 1941, and took our positions in the convoy. [Next day] the U-boats started torpedoing... 5-6 ships were lost during this time." Blackmon was loading 54-pound shells for the No. 1 gun turret when a torpedo hit: "The shell that hit us almost cut the Kearny in half. We had to prop the bulkhead with 2-by-4s to keep it from collapsing."
Russia grants medals to British Arctic Convoy veterans
30 Russian Arctic Convoy veterans from Scotland will be presented with a medal to mark the 65th anniversary of the end of Second World War. The Consul General of the Russian Federation Sergey Krutikov said it was a sign of gratitude for their heroic war deeds: "It is a great honour for me to ... present these medals to the British Russian Convoy veterans." Chairman of the Russian Arctic Convoy Club Scotland, Jock Dempster, stated: "The medal is much appreciated for adding formal recognition of the critical role we played in shipping vital supplies to Murmansk and Archangel."
"Last march" of veteran of the World War II Arctic convoys
A Scottish veteran of the WW2 Arctic convoys thinks this Armistice could be the last he and fellow sailors parade together at London's Cenotaph. Old age has taken toll on those who pulled through the Russian runs. Jock Dempster said it was his opinion this November could be the last time they paraded together. But he said Scots veterans would continue to gather annually at Loch Ewe, from where several convoys left. Sailings from the sea loch in Wester Ross, the Highlands, were made 1942-1944. Veterans have been invited to what is expected to be a one-off event being held in honour of the Loch Ewe convoys at Pool House Hotel.
Russia awards British WW2 Arctic convoys veterans
British members of the Arctic convoys which delivered vital supplies to the Soviet Union, met with their Russian counterparts in London to celebrate Victory Day and get Russian Arctic Medals. The ceremony took place on HMS Belfast, London's Floating Naval Museum, which is a living memory from those cold Arctic days. Back in 1942 it was the largest cruiser in the Royal Navy, offering heavy close-range cover for the Arctic convoy. In total 78 of them made their way to and from North Russia carrying 4 million tonnes of supplies - food, tanks and aircraft to be used in the battle against Nazis on the Eastern Front.
Arctic Emblem for the heroes of the Arctic Convoys (Article no longer available from the original source)
The ice was thick on the deck of the warship HMS Cumberland as it sailed through the frozen Arctic waters on its way to the Russian port of Archangel. Bearing a cargo of munitions and weapons that would help turn the tide during the World War II. But they were sitting ducks for the German U-boats. Suddenly there was an explosion and Keith Dyble could see that a ship had been torpedoed, its crew thrown into the freezing black water. "We couldn't stop." Despite the heavy losses, the supplies which did get through included 12,755 battle tanks, 22,200 aircraft, 4 million tons of ammunition.
Eighth medal honour for arctic convoy hero John Burns (Article no longer available from the original source)
An Edinburgh war veteran who battled in Arctic conditions to rescue the bodies of his countrymen was set to be honoured with his eighth medal. John Burns was a young man when he was sent on a rescue mission as a gunner with the Royal Navy's Russian Arctic Convoy in 1941. In icy weather and high seas, Mr Burns and his crewmen scoured the seas in search of survivors of the PQ17 Merchant Navy convoy, which had been left abandoned by its Royal Navy escort ships following misinterpreted intelligence from their command about an imminent German attack elsewhere. Out of 33 ships left behind, 24 were sunk by German bombers and U-boats.
Heroes of the Arctic convoys are to receive recognition of their bravery (Article no longer available from the original source)
Heroism of servicemen who ran the gauntlet of German U-boats in the freezing Arctic waters — what Winston Churchill described as the worst journey in the world — will be recognised with an Arctic Star. Made of white enamel with a red dot to represent Russia, the star will be pinned to veterans' existing campaign medals — the Atlantic Star or the 1939-1945 Star.
Arctic convoy heroes attack brothel movie as 'sick fantasy'
A renowned Russian director is planning a film claiming that British sailors on the wartime Arctic convoys to Murmansk were provided with sex from KGB-trained women. Furious survivors of the voyages say the 'brothels' are mythical. For four years, they survived some of the harshest conditions of the Second World War to get crucial supplies through to their besieged Russian allies, facing ceaseless bombardment, repeated U-boat attacks and some of the bitterest temperatures on earth.
Captain Alexander Dickson - With the ill-fated PQ17 Russian convoy
Captain Alexander Dickson, who died aged 85, served in destroyers throughout the Second World War and was second-in-command of Keppel during the ill-fated PQ17 Russian convoy. PQ17 sailed on June 27 1942 from Hvalfjord, in Iceland, for Murmansk, with supplies for the beleaguered Red Army. The Admiralty in London became concerned that the German cruiser Tirpitz was steaming towards the convoy - despite Enigma intercepts. On July 4 the order was given by Admiral Sir Dudley Pound for the convoy to scatter and for the escort to attack the German fleet, but no contact was made. Meanwhile, the merchant ships were left to their fate.
Expedition sets off for place of doomed WWII allied convoy ships
A North Fleet ship is setting off from Murmansk for an island in the Barents Sea where several allied convoy ships sank during World War Two. The captain Vyacheslav Solodov said that the expedition's task during 10 days of voyage was to find and study 8 ships, which included three transport vessels of Panama and the U.S., three British combat ships and two German submarines. One Icelandic and two Russian war veterans are on board the ship. Icelander Peter Olafson participated in polar convoys and visited Murmansk in 1942 as a member of the U.S. PQ-14 convoy.
Russians pay tribute to brave Scots who formed Arctic lifeline
Russia honoured the Scots war heroes who braved the icy Arctic sea to get supplies to the Red Army. The Arctic convoys undertook some of the most dangerous missions as they ferried weapons to the ports of Murmansk and Archangel. More than 3,000 British sailors were killed in the onslaught by U-boats and Luftwaffe bombers. Among those was Jim Osler who was shipwrecked during the disastrous PQ17 convoy. The convoy came under attack when an intelligence error caused its warship escort to scatter amid reports that the battleship Tirpitz was heading their way. Assault from German divebombers and U-boats saw 153 sailors die and only 11 of 37 merchant ships escape.
Painful memories for survivors of the Arctic convoys (Article no longer available from the original source)
Counting the cost: More than 3,000 British men and women died on the convoys which began in 1941. A total of 78 convoys sailed to and from northern Russia during the war. 5,000 tanks and 7,000 aircraft, as well as trucks, ammunition and other supplies were delivered. More than 100 ships were lost to surface, air and submarine attack. In July 1942 only 11 of 39 ships reached the Kola Peninsula. Hundreds died as ships were picked off by German aircraft and U-boats. More than 200 aircraft, 400 tanks and 3,350 other vehicles were lost.
Convoy Veterans Renew Camaraderie of Arctic War
Dozens of British and Russian veterans of Arctic convoys that delivered vital aid to the Soviet Union during WWII met in St. Petersburg. Anatoly Livshits, a Russian navy veteran of 23 Arctic convoys, said he was impressed by the strong spirit of the British sailors. Arctic convoys transported military and food supplies to the Soviet Union to aid its fight against Nazi Germany. They delivered aid under the Lend-Lease program, under which the U.S. delivered arms, ammunition and other strategic items to allied countries fighting the Axis powers.
Fury at Arctic convoy emblem plan - Only Medal counts
The leader of a fight for a campaign medal for veterans of World War II Arctic convoys is furious at plans to award them a special emblem instead. Prime Minister announced the plans for the veterans, who ferried vital supplies to Russia during the war. Cdr Eddie Grenfell labelled it "the most dreadful thing that has ever happened to veterans. The only way that a campaign will go down in history is by a medal - a badge means nothing." But other survivors appeared happier. During the convoys, merchant ships were escorted by the Royal Navy through U-boat-dominated waters, in freezing conditions, to take war materials to Russia.
Convoy PQ17 - Digital leap for Russian war film
Work has ended on Russia's first war film to make full use of digital special effects. Convoy PQ17 tells the true story of an Arctic convoy devastated by German bombers in the summer of 1942. Video clips posted on newsru.com website show Allied AA gunners in unequal combat with the planes. The TV film took its creator, Russia's Semyon Levin Studio, about a year to make, using archive material to recreate the ships, planes and subs. "Nothing remains of the armaments of that time," Mr Levin told newsru. "War and time left nothing. We had to recreate them from scratch."