Long over due, the British Government finally see sense. Now we all hope that they and their bureaucrats get their collective digits out and make sure the medals are available while there are still some deserving recipients alive to make all this worthwhile.
It would also be right to award the medals posthumously to those who couldn’t hang around while this country had its governmental knickers in a twist.
So in this sudden period of enlightenment do you suppose there is any chance that this government might also allow the Russians to present the Ushakov medal.
The convoys kept Russia supplied to keep fighting the Nazis on Germany’s eastern front. But while the Ushakov medal has been handed to veterans from Australia, Canada and the United States for their role in the convoys, the British government is refusing to allow it to be given to British veterans.
When our stuffy government sticks by rules that are both antiquated and unfair then they should be ashamed and so should we as a nation.
There is no time limit on valour. There is no time limit on doing ones duty. There should be no time limit on recognising duty and valour.
The Russians clearly recognise this
In a letter seen by The News, Alexander Yakovenko told veterans the Russian Embassy in London has ‘profound regret’ that the British government will not allow them to be decorated.
‘Under the circumstances the embassy only has to express its profound regret that while the authorities of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA have granted permission to the veterans of the Arctic Convoys to be awarded the Ushakov Medal, we are not in a position to honour in the same way the courage and sacrifice of the British heroes of the Arctic Convoys.
This issue has been the subject of a motion put before the British parliament but to no avail and some are addressing the Russian Embassy directly to request that they ignore the British Governments appalling decision and go ahead and award the medal….. See here
The “five-year” criteria is a farce and has been waived by the British Government in recent times.
The Foreign Office state that the rules of acceptance of foreign awards had to have taken place within the previous five years or that permission cannot be granted if they have received a UK award for the same services. This is somewhat contradictory to the award of the Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal for those who served in operations in Malaya/Malaysia between August 1957 and August 1966. This medal was first struck in 2005 and in 2011 unrestricted permission was given by Her Majesty The Queen for the acceptance and wearing of this medal, even though those who served in this theatre had already received the British General Service Medal, with additional Malaya/Borneo Clasp.
the award of the Naval GSM and GSM with Suez Canal Zone Clasp which was awarded in 2003 to those who had served between 16th October 1951 and 19th October 1954. This award was also originally subject to the five-year rule and should not be considered, which was later changed and the Honours and Decorations Committee endorsed the recommendation.
It would seem rather ironic considering the Prime Ministers recent speech the other day on national television in regard to the millions of pounds, rightly so, the Government are going to put into the forthcoming 100th Anniversary of the start of WWI, as an act of remembrance to educate those at school and the sacrifice made by so many, but they are not willing to consider an award to those veterans of WWII still living by stating a rule that has been overturned with previous awards.
Between 1941 and 1945 British warships escorted 78 convoys carrying thousands of aircraft, anti-aircraft guns, trucks and tanks, fuel, food, tools and other vital supplies through the Barents Sea to the Russian ports of Murmansk and Archangel in a voyage Winston Churchill described as ‘the worst journey in the world.’
The Foreign Office has blocked plans by the Russian government to honour Arctic Convoy veterans with a medal for valour.
The convoys kept Russia supplied to keep fighting the Nazis on Germany’s eastern front, and have been credited with ensuring Hitler did not triumph.
But while the Ushakov medal has been handed to veterans from Australia, Canada and the United States for their role in the convoys, the British government is refusing to allow it to be given to British veterans.
Apparently “rules are rules”
Under UK law, citizens are allowed to receive foreign medals and awards only if the British government gives them permission, and only if the award relates to the recipient’s activities within past five years.
A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: ‘The rules on the acceptance of foreign awards state that for permission to be given for an award to be accepted, there has to have been specific service to the country concerned and that service should have taken place within the previous five years.
‘Additionally, permission cannot be granted if they have received, or are expected to receive, a UK award for the same services.
‘All British Veterans of the Convoys were eligible for the World War Two Atlantic Star. Additionally, a lapel badge (the Arctic Emblem) was introduced in 2006 and some 10,000 have been issued.’
This unbelievable, bureaucracy gone mad and it is a slap in the face for the veterans.
It is time that the faceless civil servants in Whitehall woke up and its time that our government stopped dithering with regard to recognising the exploits of our servicemen.
How can there ever be a time limit on recognising the sacrifices our servicemen make.
For once I am in complete agreement with Mike Hancock. He said
‘It is absolutely ridiculous and shameless. This country can’t even give them the medal but we can stop them from getting a medal from the people they went to help. It’s an absolute disgrace on his (Hague’s) part and it’s a slur on this country.
It seems that our government can waive this rule when it suits them which makes this decision much more of a slap in the face for the arctic veterans.
Veterans of a conflict in Malaysia in the 1960s were allowed to wear the Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal, given to them by the Malaysian government in recognition of their service.
Not only was that conflict 50 years ago, but the veterans of it had also previously been given a medal from the British government.
A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office accepted the rules had been waived once, but said that it had to treat all World War Two veterans the same or else be faced with thousands of medal requests.
Seems all the civil servants are worried about is a sudden increase in their workload.
It is time to get a sense of perspective and give these folks the medal they deserve.