Plymouth Arctic Convoy and Bomber Command heroes to receive their long-awaited medals
HEROES of the Arctic Convoys and Bomber Command of World War Two are finally to receive their medals.
The Government has announced, after bowing to pressure from campaigners, that all surviving veterans and the families of those who are no longer alive will receive the honours "within weeks".
The Arctic Star will be given to all who served north of the Arctic Circle during World War Two, and those who flew at least one operational flight as part of Bomber Command. Arctic Convoy veteran Frederick Humble, from Plympton, said: "I am looking forward to finally receiving it but I'm more pleased to know that the widows and families of those who died will also receive it."
The Arctic veterans supplied Russia with vital fuel, food and munitions during the war, while Bomber Command were ordered to attack key German targets in daring raids. Almost half of its 125,000 men died. It has taken 67 years for their actions to be recognised – so long that thousands of veterans have since died. It is thought only 200 of 66,500 who sailed on the convoys are still alive today.
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Basil Downing-Waite, chairman of the Federation of Plymouth and District Ex-Services Association, said: "In my opinion it's a disgrace that it has taken so long to recognise the sacrifices of these men who had to suffer such horrendous conditions.
"It was tough enough when I served with the Royal Navy in the Cold War but that was nothing compared to what these men endured. They had days and weeks with no let-up.
"But at least it can be awarded posthumously so the families can have something to honour the heroic actions of their loved-ones."
He added: "[When] you hear how many really young people we lost, it's just amazing it is taken so long for these wonderful men to be given the recognition they deserve."
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