Russian diplomats have awarded medals to Arctic Convoy veterans in recognition of the part they played transporting vital supplies to Russia during the war.
Captain Oleg Kornienko, the naval attaché of the Russian Federation, welcomed 38 British veterans at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard.
It comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the veterans would receive the Ushakov medal in recognition of their personal courage and bravery during service in the Arctic Convoys in World War Two.
Trudie Grenfell, 67, of Southsea, was there to pick up a medal on behalf of her late father, Commander Eddie Grenfell. Eddie led the 16-year campaign for recognition for Arctic Convoy veterans, which ended in 2012 when the government agreed to strike the Arctic Star medal.
Afterwards, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office made a U-turn over the Ushakov medal, which a grateful Russian nation wanted to award the veterans in May last year but was originally denied.
Trudie said: ‘I was so proud to have been able to pick up the medal on behalf of my dad. ‘I’m so happy that it sort of closes the chapter for him. ‘It was a wonderful moment. ‘It was lovely to see all the veterans getting their medals and meeting with the Russian veterans as well.’
The presentation is especially poignant as today would have been Eddie’s 95th birthday. He died in June 2013 at the age of 93 at his daughter’s home in Southsea.
At the presentation in Portsmouth, Russian veterans were also present to meet with British veterans and exchange conversation and stories. Those who attended were welcomed by the vice president of the HMS Belfast Association Captain Mike Matthews.
Veterans around the country have been presented with the medal of Ushakov at various ceremonies around the country. The present of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, presented some medals himself at an event in London.
The Arctic Convoys were ordered by prime minister Winston Churchill during the Second World War to supply the Soviet Union on the eastern front. He called the missions ‘the worst journey in the world’.
Hundreds of ships sailed a freezing gauntlet to Russia under a barrage of attacks from German warplanes and U-boat wolf-packs. Of the 66,500 British sailors involved, 3,000 lost their lives.