Arctic convoy sailors get medals aboard HMS Belfast—65 years on
PUBLISHED: 12:00 25 March 2010 | UPDATED: 15:45 05 October 2010
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SURVIVORS from the Arctic convoys in the Second World War have at last been presented with commemorative medals in London as a special thank you’ by the Russians 65 years after they were last in action, on board HMS Belfast in London on the 65th anniversary of VE Day
SURVIVORS from the Arctic convoys in the Second World War have at last been presented with commemorative medals in London as a special thank you’ by the Russians 65 years after they were last in action.
The last 14 surviving veterans who ran the gauntlet of Hitler’s Germany to keep Britain’s Soviet wartime Allies supplied between 1942 and 45 were on board HMS Belfast in the Pool of London yesterday (Wednesday) , the 65th anniversary of VE Day, for their medals.
They were presented by the Kremlin’s Presidential State decorations chief Vladimir Borisovitch Osipov on the gun deck.
HMS Belfast director Brad King said: “We should not forget the bravery and true heroism these men showed. These medals celebrate the tremendous courage and strength shown by sailors who risked their lives during the Second World War.”
The Belfast, now moored permanently as a floating museum’ near Tower Bridge, is also a survivor’ of the Arctic run.
The Arctic convoy route was what Winston Churchill called the worst journey in the world’ when the Royal and Canadian Royal navies protected the Merchant Navy convoys around the North Cape of Norway to the Russian ports of Archangel and Murmansk in sub zero temperatures to ensure supplies reached Soviet shores.
Four million tons of supplies were shipped, including 5,000 tanks and 7,000 aircraft for the Soviet forces fighting on the Eastern Front, with temperatures as low as minus 30°C.
The Artic run took its toll, however, with 3,000 British and Allied sailors losing their lives by the end of 1945 in treacherous Arctic conditions.
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