In the midst of World War Two, tens of thousands of men were forced to endure what Churchill described as the "worst journey in the world". In sub-zero temperatures, the servicemen of the Arctic Convoys valiantly fought to keep the supply lines with Russia open. It is impossible to envisage how the Red Army would have continued its fight against the Nazis without the heroic actions of these men.
Only 200 of the Arctic Convoy veterans survive today, and yet they are still fighting to gain the recognition they have long deserved from this country. I recently held a debate in Westminster Hall to urge the government to finally honour the veterans of the Arctic Convoys with a medal.
For the Arctic campaign remains the only major maritime campaign of the Second World War without a specific medal. Successive governments have, in opposition, recognised the deep injustice of this situation, but no medal has been granted.
Over the years, the number of veterans has dwindled, while the MoD has hidden behind protocol to deny them recognition, with their most recent review ending fruitlessly after sixteen months. Yet once again, in Tuesday’s debate, the weaknesses of the arguments against a medal were apparent.