View Full Version : UK says no to Russian bravery medals for Arctic Convoy Veterans

Ronald Reagan
10th Feb 2013, 12:17
UK government prevents arctic convoy veterans from accepting Russian bravery medal for their actions in World War 2!!!

Honor denied: UK won't let WWII vets accept Russian bravery medals — RT (http://rt.com/news/uk-veterans-russian-bravery-medals-314/)

Arctic convoys: Fury as veterans denied Russian bravery medal for their role in perilous World War II campaign | Mail Online (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2217148/Arctic-convoys-Fury-veterans-denied-Russian-bravery-medal-role-perilous-World-War-II-campaign.html)

How can the government actually stop them from accepting it? I would have thought it would not only be an honour for the veterans themselves but also good for the country and our relationship with Russia.

10th Feb 2013, 13:00
I'd love to go on a sacking tour in MoD, Treasury and Overseas Development. As well as the Cabinet, the Cabinet office and all the blasted idiot ministers.

Lon More
10th Feb 2013, 13:10
Camerloon has relented, and together with a "clasp"for the heroes of Bomber Command, it has been decided that they will receive recognition. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-20783362)

Bring back Guy Fawkes.


FFS There's not many of them left. Heroes every one. Not something that any in Parliament would understand.

Ronald Reagan
10th Feb 2013, 14:06
Even though a British medal is most welcome its not the same as these men being awarded a Russian medal by the Russians. Credit must go to the modern day Russians for wanting to honour what these men went through for their countrymen back in the 1940s.

10th Feb 2013, 14:33
Leaving aside the Bomber Command clasp which has been discussed at length on here, I have views on the award of the Ushakov Medal which I suspect will not be popular.

The Order of Ushakov and the Ushakov Medal were instituted in 1944 and were awarded to officers and ratings of the Soviet navy "for valour and gallantry displayed in sea battles". Thus the article in the link rightly describes them as gallantry medals, not campaign medals.

Survivors of the Arctic Convoys have already been awarded Soviet and
Russian medals on the 40th, 50th and 60th anniveraries of the end of the war, as well as the Arctic Star emblem for the 1939-45 Star. To my mind, a blanket award of a gallantry medal to all who took part is inappropriate and seems to be in keeping with the woolly-minded "all must have medals" thinking that pervades modern society. After all, we are not proposing that all who fly in Afghanistan should get the DFC, nor all soldiers the MC, so where is the difference? Constant harping over imagined slights demeans the honour of those who took part in this outstanding campaign, and the award of even more medals to a dwindling band of survivors will do nothing to add to it.

PS - Lon - can you resize your picture?

10th Feb 2013, 14:46
Ronald, yours is a post that leaves me wondering if I understand it correctly. It seems clear enough, but is there more to it that I am too dim to see?

What possible reason could there be for denial of permission, if permission is necessary,to accept such recognition?

At the time, back in the early 40s, the Soviets accorded a fairly cool reception to our mariners when they did reach such beauty spots as Archangel. If they now mellow a little, why not receive the offer with wide-open arms?

I know one veteran of the convoys, formerly an LSBA in RN destroyers. I recall his telling me that apart from run-of-the-mill injuries and "weather" problems like frost-bite, a common complaint was serious skin conditions caused by awful ventilation in mess-decks as the inhabitants reasonably but unwisely made every effort to cut off air circulation in the hopes of preserving at least some warmth, hour after hour and day after day.

After the war he tried various jobs and then resumed the high-school studies that had been interrupted by the war, progressed to medical school in the UK,m and has been a physician now for the better part of sixty years.

I can think of few people more deserviong of any offer that is going, and he did not have the benefits of Eton.

10th Feb 2013, 15:09
the woolly-minded "all must have medals" thinking that pervades modern society.

Tanker, I have often found this a difficult question. I know two pilots, each formerly in No 3 Group, Bomber Command, each of whom flew about a dozen missions over occupied Europe as the war drew to a close and brought them both redundancy. Different squadrons, similar jobs. Both came home more than once with badly shot-up Lancasters. Both were to a large extent, so they tell me and I believe them, petrified from the moment they left briefing to the moment they got back to bed.

One has the DFC and the other does not.

All decorations are an inevitably "chancy thing", incentive to actions that commonsense rejects as "loony". Much hangs on that "inevitably chancy", but it is not clear from the intro that these awards were for a mere routine task. All service in Bomber Command was voluntary, but service in the U-Boat Dienst was not; yet both led almost certainly to an early obituary.

I once saw an old man, holder of the VC, beng asked: "What is the quality most needed to win the VC?"

His answer was spot-on: "Inexperience!"

I do not presume to any smart-ass answer here, but any piece of coloured ribbon to mark the service of anyone who "Was There" is a worthy investment by all who were not there but drew a benefit.

10th Feb 2013, 17:28
It took The Queen to consent to a C17 Pilot and RN Sub Commander to receive Russian Medals in late 2005. They were presented by Putin at No.10.
Unfortunately the rest of the RAF/RN team effort were overlooked - outside of SJAR/OJAR.
I have a resume of the sortie by one of the RAF crew:
"We were greeted by a group of uniformed personnel wearing some of the biggest hats we had ever seen."

10th Feb 2013, 18:45

Following your logic....would you deny the British, Canadian, and Australian Troops who fought at the Imjin River in Korea....the right to wear the United States Presidential Unit Citation they were awarded for their courage during that fight?

The collective degree of valor (combat heroism) against an armed enemy by the unit nominated for the PUC is the same as that which would warrant award of the individual award of the Distinguished Service Cross, Air Force Cross or Navy Cross. In some cases, one or more individuals within the unit may have also been awarded individual awards for their contribution to the actions for which their entire unit was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation.

The 1st Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment and Troop C, 170th Independent Mortar Battery of the British Army were both awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for their defence of a hill whilst surrounded during the Battle of the Imjin River. The 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry and 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment were awarded the citation for their actions during the Battle of Kapyong, shortly afterwards.

60 years on: How 866 British heroes held off a 27,000-strong Chinese army | The Sun |Features (http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/features/3536624/60-years-on-How-866-British-heroes-held-off-a-27000-strong-Chinese-army.html)

Rail Engineer
10th Feb 2013, 19:22
One has the DFC and the other does not.With regards to the DFC in WW2 on completion of a tour of operations (30 trips over German occupied territory) it was usual for the Captain and/or Pilot if he was of NCO rank to be promoted by one rank with it could come the award a DFC.

To explain more fully, the senior member of the crew was the Captain of the a/c, and in some cases this could have been a member of the crew who was an Officer but not a Pilot. For example a W/O2 Flight Engineer outranked a F/Sgt pilot, and was thus technically i/c however the pilot still remained responsible for the safety and operation of the a/c.

Interim DFCs were awarded for exception acts of courage, and could be bestowed upon the Officers of a complete crew, with the NCOs receiving the DFM.

Remember that until the end of WW2 losses were running at around 5 to 8% broad average so the chances of any crew completing a tour of ops was pretty remote.

The general rule is that if a member of aircrew has a DFM/DFC then it is a safe bet that they have completed at least one tour. A DFC and Bar would indicate two tours as would a DFM and DFC - as an NCO could be promoted to Officer rank for a second tour.

Hope this may help.

10th Feb 2013, 19:34

I went on a business trip to Korea via Japan in the early 1980s. A long queue at customs and a big Texan in front of me with a loud voice and a mound of beautiful pigskin luggage complaining about the delay. He didn't open the cases fast enough for the customs guy who whipped out a ground down hacksaw blade and opened the luggage that way! So I was very polite and had no trouble.

The next day was Sunday and I went for a tourist bus trip round Seoul. At one hotel, three gents in Arab dress got on the bus, and with them was a Korean in tweed sport jacket and a significant bulge under the left armpit. He started talking to me ' I am Captain Kim, I am policeman' , So I told him about the customs guy. He said (and I'll never forget this)

'You are English, yes?'


'You had no trouble with customs?'


'Good. In Korea, we know we are free because of the English and the glorious Gloucesters'.

What better recommendation and recognition?

British Railways renamed 5017 St. Donat's Castle to 'The Gloucestershire Regiment 28th 61st' in April 1954. Unusually, it was stationed at Gloucester and reputedly, was always immaculately turned out - the railwaymen's tribute. It was said that they should have put 4037 'The South Wales Borderers' at Cardiff Canton as they always turned clean engines and that one would have been special!

10th Feb 2013, 21:19
Sasless - your point about unit citations is well made. These do not exist in the British system, but when an allied power sees fit to award one to a British unit I see no objection. The Soviets also had collective awards which confusingly bestow the title "Guards" to the recipient unit, which may be a regiment, air formation or a ship, an honour which is marked by a rather tacky badge which I doubt would impress the convoy veterans. They did not, however, award gallantry medals collectively, but maybe with so few recipients left it might be the time to say "what the hell, why not?" and let them do it, even though to me that downgrades the award.

tony draper
10th Feb 2013, 21:32
I can understand how the Government can forbid the issue of the medal to members of the military but Merchant Seamen were civilians? though in a reserved occupation during the war,surely they could just tell the Whitehall warriors to piss off and take the medal?
My Step Father sailed on the Russian Convoys though he had joined the Army he spent his war at sea in merchant ships serving with the DEMS.

10th Feb 2013, 22:48

It has naught to do with the "Award"....and everything to do with acknowledging very brave Men doing very dangerous work and sacrificing their lives in the process. To show some respect and gratitude to the Survivors is right and just in my view.

We see that kind of service as demanding recognition. I suppose some Para's dropping into Normandy one June night were not all engaged in direct combat with the German Troops that night....some merely survived and wandered around lost for a while....but I suggest they all earned our undying respect and admiration the instant they stepped out the door or boarded the Glider.

When you serve in a unit hat has earned a PUC...even if it was before your time....you get to wear that while you are assigned to the unit. If you are in the unit when the award was earned....you get to wear that Ribbon permanently.

That is as it should be.

10th Feb 2013, 23:26
It's remarkable to think, whatever the way the world has changed. That the stupid bureaucrecy hasn't. Remember some idiot civil servant made that decision and he really believes he made the right decision based on his idiotic terms of reference. He's really comfortable about it too.

As he sits at home in his comfy semi detached house somewhere in suburbia, he knows he did his duty. He cares less about the merchant marine, he cares less about Russia, he cares less the last generation who put themselves out and died to win the war that allows him to sit at home and smugly open his bottle of chianti.

But in wartime, the front line people knew them too. The people who stayed at home, the people who did nothing, the people whose career was ensured by the war.

Nothing has changed.

11th Feb 2013, 00:04
No it hasn't changed, but then people like us banging on about it hasn't changed either. Johnnie Johnson made the point quite poignantly when he related towards the end of the war when he was a Group Captain in Germany that he was visited by an airship who promptly tore him off for the state of his uniform. Johnson made a point of looking at the airships chest which hadn't a single campaign medal on it, and as he intimated, out of the woodwork they come, the peacetime warriors to capitalise on the deeds of brave and dead men.