The News in
Portsmouth has achieved a breakthrough in its campaign to gain proper
recognition for the men who sailed in the Arctic convoys during the
Second World War.
The Johnston evening has been working alongside
the veterans’ leader Commander Eddie Grenfell and the Russian convoy
men since January 2004 to get a medal, which they have been denied for
more than 60 years.
Its “Last Chance for Justice” campaign is
being backed by the vast majority of MPs in the Commons. The paper sent
a petition with more than 55,000 names to Downing Street and organised
a march of 500 people in London last year past the Houses of Parliament.
John Reid became defence secretary, The News asked him whether the
veterans could be given a clasp or badge to attach to their existing
Atlantic Star or the 1939-1945 Star medals. The News and Grenfell are
pushing for the Government to manufacture a white star with a red dot.
has now indicated that this may be possible and said the issue had been
going on for too long already. The veterans, who suffered sub-zero
conditions to take crucial supplies to Russia, are already in their
Editor Mike Gilson said: “We have been giving this
campaign both barrels since we launched and I think at last we have
found a straight-talking minister in John Reid.
“We felt there
was an injustice being done to them when the awards were handed out and
the committee decided which medals should be given out.
The Arctic was never recognised as a separate theatre of war, which it clearly was.
the end of this year we will go to John Reid and ask what is happening
– and if he moves on that, then in January or February we can start
making the announcement and can get the victory that the men deserve.”