War hero Bill Sunderland to receive Arctic Convoy Star medal

Bill Sunderland, one of about 200 Arctic Convoy veterans who will receive the Arctic Convoy Star

Arctic Convoy veteran Bill Sunderland pictured during the war, back right, with members of the communications mess of HMS Serapis

Published in News York Press: Photograph of the Author by , Chief reporter

AN ARCTIC convoy veteran from York has spoken of his delight after David Cameron announced that he and his fellow seamen will finally receive special medals.

Bill Sunderland, 86, of Foxwood Lane, is one of only about 200 veterans still alive who will receive recognition for their bravery in atrocious conditions almost 70 years ago.

The Prime Minister told MPs yesterday that an Arctic Convoy Star medal was to be minted, in line with the recommendations of a review of military medals carried out by former diplomat Sir John Holmes.

“I am very pleased that some of the brave men of the Arctic Convoys will get the recognition they so richly deserve for the very dangerous work they did,” he said, adding that a clasp would also be awarded to “heroic” veterans of RAF Bomber Command.

When the Press broke the good news to Mr Sunderland, who was a Royal Navy signalman during the war, the widower said: “I am very pleased, although I am disappointed it has come too late for many veterans who have passed on.

“I’m pleased there is recognition of the conditions we went through, not only coming under enemy fire but also suffering from terrible weather.”

More than 3,000 seamen died over four years from 1941 on missions to keep open supply lines to Soviet ports which were dubbed the “worst journey in the world” by Winston Churchill.

Mr Sunderland has told previously how he survived 40ft waves, torpedo attacks and savagely cold weather which left his ship covered in two inches of ice as the Arctic convoys delivered food, weaponry and other vital supplies to Russia as it fought the Germans in the east.

Earlier this year, Mr Sunderland was delighted when Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a decree to award him and other veterans the Ushakov Medal in recognition of their “outstanding contribution to the allied co-operation” during theSecond World War.

But his joy turned to disgust in the autumn when it emerged that the British Government had blocked the Russian proposals.

The Foreign Office said then that it very much appreciated the Russian Government’s wish to recognise the veterans’ “brave and valuable” service, but said the rules on the acceptance of foreign awards clearly stated that in order for permission to be given for an award to be accepted, the service had to have taken place within the previous five years.

Yesterday’s announcement was welcomed as ‘marvellous news’ by representatives of the York branch of the Royal Naval Association, although they expressed regret that it had come too late for many veterans.

Comments (14)

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11:15am Thu 20 Dec 12

long distance depressive says...

Nothing in retrospect for those who served and sufferee but have passed on...what a con.
Nothing in retrospect for those who served and sufferee but have passed on...what a con. long distance depressive
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11:38am Thu 20 Dec 12

Dukeofpork says...

Excellent news. Well done The Tories - the mean spirited Labour lot plus the spineless LibDems would never have agreed this long overdue award. While they're at it, what about a campaign to reverse the hijacking of the word "Hero" as applied to footballers et al?
Excellent news. Well done The Tories - the mean spirited Labour lot plus the spineless LibDems would never have agreed this long overdue award. While they're at it, what about a campaign to reverse the hijacking of the word "Hero" as applied to footballers et al? Dukeofpork
  • Score: 0

1:05pm Thu 20 Dec 12

Alpha Kenny Thing says...

Dukeofpork wrote:
Excellent news. Well done The Tories - the mean spirited Labour lot plus the spineless LibDems would never have agreed this long overdue award. While they're at it, what about a campaign to reverse the hijacking of the word "Hero" as applied to footballers et al?
Agreed, on all counts. It seems that if you wear uniform these days you are a "Hero". It's utter garbage. There are without question some very brave people serving our country but to label them all heroes diminishes the meaning of the word. In my time in the army there were an awful lot blokes that could and would be described in much less favorable terms.
Let's reserve the term fore those that actually deserve it and not for everyone just doing their job. As for footballers, don't get me started!
[quote][p][bold]Dukeofpork[/bold] wrote: Excellent news. Well done The Tories - the mean spirited Labour lot plus the spineless LibDems would never have agreed this long overdue award. While they're at it, what about a campaign to reverse the hijacking of the word "Hero" as applied to footballers et al?[/p][/quote]Agreed, on all counts. It seems that if you wear uniform these days you are a "Hero". It's utter garbage. There are without question some very brave people serving our country but to label them all heroes diminishes the meaning of the word. In my time in the army there were an awful lot blokes that could and would be described in much less favorable terms. Let's reserve the term fore those that actually deserve it and not for everyone just doing their job. As for footballers, don't get me started! Alpha Kenny Thing
  • Score: 0

1:43pm Thu 20 Dec 12

Pedro says...

I am glad for the man. I take my hat off to him. He went through hell so I can say what I want on here.
I am glad for the man. I take my hat off to him. He went through hell so I can say what I want on here. Pedro
  • Score: 0

1:49pm Thu 20 Dec 12

typhoon75 says...

Well deserved to someone who played their part in the war.
Its a shame the idiots in london didn't respect the work many had done during the war and allow this straight away
My 8 yr old son has more respect for the heroes of ww2 than the government does after doing a project at school recently.

Congratulations sir
Well deserved to someone who played their part in the war. Its a shame the idiots in london didn't respect the work many had done during the war and allow this straight away My 8 yr old son has more respect for the heroes of ww2 than the government does after doing a project at school recently. Congratulations sir typhoon75
  • Score: 0

5:29pm Thu 20 Dec 12

Ayemgee says...

Seems to me that accepting the Russian medal would have been a more productive reponse, given the strained relations between the two countries, and given that the leadership in the Soviet Union in the period 1945 to 89 was to say the least unfriendly. How could the medals have been issued in the right timescale?
We should be recognising the heroic resistance to the Nazis by the Russian people with out whose sacrifices our fate might have been
dreadful, by accepting this overturel.
Seems to me that accepting the Russian medal would have been a more productive reponse, given the strained relations between the two countries, and given that the leadership in the Soviet Union in the period 1945 to 89 was to say the least unfriendly. How could the medals have been issued in the right timescale? We should be recognising the heroic resistance to the Nazis by the Russian people with out whose sacrifices our fate might have been dreadful, by accepting this overturel. Ayemgee
  • Score: 0

5:38pm Thu 20 Dec 12

Omega Point says...

Dukeofpork wrote:
Excellent news. Well done The Tories - the mean spirited Labour lot plus the spineless LibDems would never have agreed this long overdue award. While they're at it, what about a campaign to reverse the hijacking of the word "Hero" as applied to footballers et al?
Don't praise the Tories, they have had long enough and been in power longer than Labour since the WW2. They all are to blame for this and other gross disrespect to former servicemen and women
[quote][p][bold]Dukeofpork[/bold] wrote: Excellent news. Well done The Tories - the mean spirited Labour lot plus the spineless LibDems would never have agreed this long overdue award. While they're at it, what about a campaign to reverse the hijacking of the word "Hero" as applied to footballers et al?[/p][/quote]Don't praise the Tories, they have had long enough and been in power longer than Labour since the WW2. They all are to blame for this and other gross disrespect to former servicemen and women Omega Point
  • Score: 0

5:39pm Thu 20 Dec 12

peterstreet says...

Dukeofpork wrote:
Excellent news. Well done The Tories - the mean spirited Labour lot plus the spineless LibDems would never have agreed this long overdue award. While they're at it, what about a campaign to reverse the hijacking of the word "Hero" as applied to footballers et al?
forgive me if I am wrong but I seem to remember several tory governments being in office since 1945 who could quite easily have done the right thing by Bill and his mates especially seeing as at any of these times a lot more of these brave and noble men would have been alive to recieve the recognition they so richly deserved. Did you not realise this pork and alpha? or were you just talking out of the back passage, you both might do well to remember that men and women of all parties did there duties in 39 to 45 and afterwards! many, like Bill recieved little or no credit for it. as for the artivle? I seem to remember that the original was in protest of whitehalls refusal to change the rules to allow Bill to accept the Russian medal. This hasnt changed and who rules whitehall presentlly? why Mr Cameron and his friends so perhaps it would be better if some people checked their facts before bursting into blue prose!!
[quote][p][bold]Dukeofpork[/bold] wrote: Excellent news. Well done The Tories - the mean spirited Labour lot plus the spineless LibDems would never have agreed this long overdue award. While they're at it, what about a campaign to reverse the hijacking of the word "Hero" as applied to footballers et al?[/p][/quote]forgive me if I am wrong but I seem to remember several tory governments being in office since 1945 who could quite easily have done the right thing by Bill and his mates especially seeing as at any of these times a lot more of these brave and noble men would have been alive to recieve the recognition they so richly deserved. Did you not realise this pork and alpha? or were you just talking out of the back passage, you both might do well to remember that men and women of all parties did there duties in 39 to 45 and afterwards! many, like Bill recieved little or no credit for it. as for the artivle? I seem to remember that the original was in protest of whitehalls refusal to change the rules to allow Bill to accept the Russian medal. This hasnt changed and who rules whitehall presentlly? why Mr Cameron and his friends so perhaps it would be better if some people checked their facts before bursting into blue prose!! peterstreet
  • Score: 0

5:58pm Thu 20 Dec 12

TerryYork says...

Top man, well deserved.
Top man, well deserved. TerryYork
  • Score: 0

6:20pm Thu 20 Dec 12

Dukeofpork says...

I accept the points made by both Omega and Peterstreet, but am unsure as to what facts need checking and why! It is fair to say that Cameron is very pro in regard to the sacrifices and heroism shown in the last war and subsequent engagements. As far as the Russian medal is concerned, I agree that they should have been allowed to accept it but I can only surmise that there are valid diplomatic reasons for not doing so. We'll never know!
I accept the points made by both Omega and Peterstreet, but am unsure as to what facts need checking and why! It is fair to say that Cameron is very pro in regard to the sacrifices and heroism shown in the last war and subsequent engagements. As far as the Russian medal is concerned, I agree that they should have been allowed to accept it but I can only surmise that there are valid diplomatic reasons for not doing so. We'll never know! Dukeofpork
  • Score: 0

6:55pm Thu 20 Dec 12

dudbertman says...

Well done Bill. You were only a babe then
Well done Bill. You were only a babe then dudbertman
  • Score: 0

8:48pm Thu 20 Dec 12

Yorkie-Clifton says...

Thank you The Press for taking the initiative and helping Billy in getting his just deserves , because without The Press it would never have come to such a happy conclusion . Merry Christmas Billy . And Great news - Thank you PRESS .
Thank you The Press for taking the initiative and helping Billy in getting his just deserves , because without The Press it would never have come to such a happy conclusion . Merry Christmas Billy . And Great news - Thank you PRESS . Yorkie-Clifton
  • Score: 0

1:46am Fri 21 Dec 12

Magicman! says...

A good result. He did a great job and deserves the formal recognition for it. Hats off to him.
A good result. He did a great job and deserves the formal recognition for it. Hats off to him. Magicman!
  • Score: 0

8:54am Fri 21 Dec 12

Mullarkian says...

Not this story but the previous one.
I didn't kmow air rifles were classed as fire arms as they are used by compressing gas and not by burning a propellant.
Not this story but the previous one. I didn't kmow air rifles were classed as fire arms as they are used by compressing gas and not by burning a propellant. Mullarkian
  • Score: 0

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