ARCTIC war veterans are set to receive their second medal.
For years, Second World War Arctic Convoy veterans were denied medals by the British Government.
However, this year, in a landmark turnaround, politicians have granted them not one, but two.
In June, former Merchant Navy seamen received the Arctic Star, which honours their part in transporting supplies to Russia between 1941 and 1945.
Last week, the men received a letter to say that they will also be awarded the Ushakov Medal from the Russian Government.
It has previously been denied to participants of Operation Dervish – the Arctic Convoys – but in June, Secretary of State William Hague said approval had been given for “an exception to the rules” on the acceptance of foreign awards.
Under current rules, medals can’t be accepted when more than five years have passed since the events.
Veteran Jim Brown, 90, of Burnmoor, sailed in Operation FB in 1942.
The former radio officer already has six medals and says he “isn’t displeased” to be honoured with the Ushakov Medal. “It’s such a long time since it happened,” said the father-of-three. “And there’s no word as to when we will actually receive it.
“With everything that is going on at the minute, with things like Syria and al-Asad, it might never happen.”
Controversially, the Ushakov Medal will not be issued posthumously.
“There are only a few hundred of us left to receive it. I’ll have to stay alive so I get it,” said Jim, who joined the Merchant Navy when he was 19 and was discharged early after 32 years when he started to lose his hearing due to ships’ noise.
“There are thousands who won’t. It is an honour of sorts, but depending on how long it takes, the some of us still might not get it.”
Jim, who celebrated his 60th wedding anniversary with wife Dorothy in March, was sent to Russia in Operation FB as a special mission.
The crew were paid £50 each – more than a month’s wage – to transport supplies to the port of Molotov in western Russia.
Thirteen ships took part. Three were forced to turn back, five sank and five arrived safely.
“It was a bleak place,” said Jim. “I remember it was soul destroying.”
Jim, a grandfather, sailed until he was discharged in 1972, including a mission in the South Atlantic when his ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat.
In a statement outlining the decision to issue the Ushakov Medal, Secretary of State William Hague, said: “I am pleased to announce that formal approval has been given to a recommendation for an exception to the rules on the acceptance of foreign awards to allow eligible British nationals to accept and wear the Russian Ushakov Medal.”
“Although under these rules permission could not be given for the Ushakov Medal to be accepted, Her Majesty’s Government have always been appreciative of the Russian Government’s wish to honour these brave men.”
Russian president Vladimir Putin presented the first medals on a visit to London in June.