Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP parliamentarians, Alasdair Allan MSP and Angus MacNeil MP, have welcomed “long overdue” news today that veterans of the Arctic Convoys in the Second World War are finally to receive a medal.
The Arctic convoys endured incredible hardship and saw over 3,000 men lose their lives in the process of ensuring that supplies successfully reached Russia during the Second World War.
The sacrifices made on the convoy are regularly identified as having been critical to the success of the war effort and many from the Western Isles took part in the arctic convoys.
The MoD have today confirmed that production of the Arctic Star medal and the Bomber Command clasp is due to begin this week. Up to 250,000 veterans or heirs will be eligible for the honour.
Welcoming the news Angus MacNeil said: “The decision to award an Arctic Convoy Medal is long overdue but it is a vindication for the many people who have campaigned over the years for this recognition of the incredible bravery shown by those involved in the convoys in some absolutely atrocious conditions.
“I am delighted that these veterans are finally to receive the recognition that they properly deserve, but this is also a moment to reflect and remember those servicemen who have not lived to see this day.
“Arctic Convoy Veterans were long ago honoured by Russia and they are regularly invited to Russia to take part in Second World War commemoration events.
“There have been incredible sacrifices with over 3,000 lives lost in the convoys to ensure that Russia remained supplied to fight on the Eastern Front, which was critical to the success of the overall war effort.
“I am very pleased that the UK Government has finally taken this decision following all the pressure and are now doing the right thing by awarding service medals.”
Alasdair Allan added: “This announcement follows a lengthy campaign to recognise the sacrifices made to ensure that Nazi Germany was forced to fight on two fronts.
“Many islanders were among the men who endured appalling conditions during the convoys, but until now their efforts have never really been officially recognised in this country.
“Particularly welcome is that the unusual decision appears to have been taken to allow the Arctic Star medal to be awarded posthumously. A number of families in the Western Isles will, I hope, now receive such recognition for their relatives’ enormous contribution.”