Bill Sunderland to receive Arctic convoy medal at last

Bill to receive Arctic convoy medal at last

Bill Sunderland in December wearing his veteran’s beret

Bill Sunderland, back right, with fellow crew members of HMS Serapis in Russia during the war

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

AN ARCTIC convoy veteran from York looks set to receive a long-awaited medal within weeks.

Bill Sunderland, 86, of Foxwood Lane, is one of about 200 veterans nationally who will finally receive the Arctic Convoy Star in recognition of their bravery in atrocious conditions almost 70 years ago.

The Government announced yesterday that production has started of the newly designed decoration, along with clasps for veterans of Bomber Command.

Veterans Minister Mark Francois said that everyone who served on the convoys and in Bomber Command deserved nothing but the utmost respect and admiration, and they would begin to receive the decorations they had so long deserved in the next few weeks.

He also revealed that the families of those no longer alive would also be able to apply for the awards in recognition of their loved ones’ bravery.

Mr Sunderland, a widower who was a Royal Navy signalman during the war, said: “I’m delighted. I was concerned that by the time the medals were ready to be presented, some of those due to receive them might have passed away.”

He hoped the medal might be presented at a meeting of the York branch of the Royal Naval Association.

The decision to award the medals was announced by Prime Minister David Cameron in December, but Mr Sunderland said he had feared it would still take a long time for them to be made.

He has spoken previously of his disappointment that the decision to present the medal had come too late for many veterans who had passed on.

However, he said he was pleased there was recognition of the conditions the veterans went through, as they came under enemy fire while 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.

Last year, The Press reported Mr Sunderland’s delight after 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 the Second World War.

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

Comments (7)

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10:42am Wed 27 Feb 13

yorkborn66 says...

Last year, The Press reported Mr. Sunderland’s delight after 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 the Second World War.
But his joy turned to disgust in the autumn when it emerged that the British Government had blocked the Russian proposals.

The decision to award the medals was announced by Prime Minister David Cameron in December, but Mr. Sunderland said he had feared it would still take a long time for them to be made.

Call me cynical, but reading this makes me wonder if Mr. Cameron blocked the Russian medal out of embarrassment, and quickly decided on the idea himself.

Congratulations Mr. Sunderland, I am pleased that your colleges and yourself are at last receiving some recognition. It is a shame that it is 70 years to late. As an ex serviceman I salute you Sir.
Last year, The Press reported Mr. Sunderland’s delight after 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 the Second World War. But his joy turned to disgust in the autumn when it emerged that the British Government had blocked the Russian proposals. The decision to award the medals was announced by Prime Minister David Cameron in December, but Mr. Sunderland said he had feared it would still take a long time for them to be made. Call me cynical, but reading this makes me wonder if Mr. Cameron blocked the Russian medal out of embarrassment, and quickly decided on the idea himself. Congratulations Mr. Sunderland, I am pleased that your colleges and yourself are at last receiving some recognition. It is a shame that it is 70 years to late. As an ex serviceman I salute you Sir. yorkborn66
  • Score: 0

11:42am Wed 27 Feb 13

eeoodares says...

Congratulations and about time!
Well done Cameron for finally doing the right thing.
Congratulations and about time! Well done Cameron for finally doing the right thing. eeoodares
  • Score: 0

2:46pm Wed 27 Feb 13

CynicaloldGit says...

Why would Bill and his fellow sailors want to accept a medal now?
If they couldn't be given the recognition when they should have been, during or immediately after the war, I think they should tell the authorities where they can stuff their medal.
Think of all those who died between 45 and now, all who should have received this tribute but sadly died before it could be given.
Everyone of these brave men should throw these bits of metal into the Thames as a protest at the now dead commrades not been give such tribute before they died.
Why would Bill and his fellow sailors want to accept a medal now? If they couldn't be given the recognition when they should have been, during or immediately after the war, I think they should tell the authorities where they can stuff their medal. Think of all those who died between 45 and now, all who should have received this tribute but sadly died before it could be given. Everyone of these brave men should throw these bits of metal into the Thames as a protest at the now dead commrades not been give such tribute before they died. CynicaloldGit
  • Score: 0

4:58pm Wed 27 Feb 13

the otter says...

those that have passed away are going too get the medal . there relatives are going too get it plus my dad got a medal for his part in d day why should he throw it the thames he proud too get it ..
those that have passed away are going too get the medal . there relatives are going too get it plus my dad got a medal for his part in d day why should he throw it the thames he proud too get it .. the otter
  • Score: 0

6:43pm Wed 27 Feb 13

the butler says...

Congratulations shipmate, It is long overdue
Congratulations shipmate, It is long overdue the butler
  • Score: 0

7:17pm Wed 27 Feb 13

YorkShrimper says...

Congratulations, finally recognition that is long overdue.
Congratulations, finally recognition that is long overdue. YorkShrimper
  • Score: 0

7:49pm Wed 27 Feb 13

pitch bull says...

This sorry tale is a stain on consecutive governments since the war. Congratulations Bill and god bless all your comrades and the lads of Bomber Command.
This sorry tale is a stain on consecutive governments since the war. Congratulations Bill and god bless all your comrades and the lads of Bomber Command. pitch bull
  • Score: 0

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