Another forgotten campaign

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Yokel, Aug 31, 2006.

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  1. I may be wrong here, but I think today (31 August) is the 65th anniversary of the arrival in Russia of the first arctic convoy. Apart from the threats posed by the Kreigsmarine and Luftwaffe, crews of warships and merchant vessels faced the dangers of operating in a sub zero environment. A man would have little chance of survival in the water.

    Men spent extended periods closed up at action stations, with little ventilation, no proper cooking, terrible weather and ice forming in mess decks. Unsurprisingly there were health effects, including TB. This is how my Grandfather got TB.

    Like Bomber Command, the men involved in the convoys to Russia (Army and RAF as well as Royal Navy and Merchant Service) were never issued with a campaign medal. Only recently have the Government decided to award them a clasp for the 1939-1945 medal.

    They fought a dangerous enemy in the most hostile climatic conditions. Their contribution may be overlooked compared to the Red Army's offensives against the Germans, but without the supply of both raw materials and vehicles, guns, aircraft, torpedo boats and much else could the Soviets have managed to blunt and then stop the German advance?
  2. So right.
  3. Well said. The conditions they suffered under were almost unbelievable. There's currently a section at the Imperial War Museum on the Merchant Navy that's well worth a visit.
  4. The Merchant Marine were treated very shabbily by the MOD afterwards, however I am told that school kids in Northern Russia are taught about the Convoys and UK veterans have often been invited over.
  5. I could be wrong, but I understood those on the Arctic convoys received the Atlantic Star. I do not know of any clasps to the 1939-45 Medal. Those on the convoys were honoured by Russia some years ago and the survivors/NOK were given a commemorative medal but there was no specific award by UK for the campaign :wink:
  6. This is rather similar to the deabte about a separate camopaign medal for Bomber Command. IMHO the Atlantic Star and the Air Crew Europe Star both meet the purpose of commemorating these very important campaigns.

    I don't think that the Arctic convoys are forgotten in particular - there seems to be a general disregard for the contribution of all the servicemen and women from the Second World War and ever since! We seem to only remember them when they are show-cased for us...still spin has overtaken substance in so much of our national life and I shouldn't be surprised. Right, I'm off for my regular Friday pub lunch with three WW2 veterans, one from each service. They very kindly let me talk to them and buy them beers, for which I am properly grateful.