Get in touch: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting YORK to 80360 or send an email»
Hope of Arctic convoy war medal rethink
A GOVERNMENT Minister has raised hopes that a York Arctic convoy veteran might receive a special medal after all.
York Central MP Hugh Bayley raised the case of Bill Sunderland in the Commons after The Press revealed on Saturday how the British Government was blocking Russian plans to present the 86-year-old with the Ushakov medal.
The Foreign Office told the newspaper that the rules on the acceptance of foreign awards clearly stated that in order for permission to be given, there had to have been specific service to the country concerned and service had to have taken place within the previous five years.
Mr Sunderland, of Foxwood Lane, who survived 40ft waves, torpedo attacks and savagely cold weather while serving on the convoys to Russia during the Second World War, said he found the British Government’s stance “disgusting and appalling”, and The Press then put Mr Bayley in touch with the veteran.
Defence Minister Dr Andrew Murrison told Mr Bayley that in a review published earlier this year former ambassador Sir John Holmes had accepted all the principal parts of the rules that went behind or underpinned medalling in this country.
But he went on to say: “Nevertheless, Sir John will report further towards the end of the year on the rules that apply to medalling and will deal specifically with the Arctic convoy and various other circumstances.”
Mr Bayley said this gave him hope that Mr Sunderland, of Foxwood Lane, and other Arctic veterans might yet be presented with the medal.
The MP said he had also written to Foreign Secretary William Hague to say he understood that the Russian Government wanted to make a special award to commemorate the service veterans gave to its country in extremely difficult circumstances, during which thousands of servicemen died.
“I urge the British Government to reconsider their decision on this and to grant permission for Mr Sunderland and other veterans like him to receive their award.”