Sunderland Arctic Convoys slams Government medal decision

Veteran sailor John Clayburn of Fulwell with his letter from the Russian Authorities informing him he is to receive a medal
Veteran sailor John Clayburn of Fulwell with his letter from the Russian Authorities informing him he is to receive a medal
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ARCTIC Convoy veteran today blasted the Coalition’s decision to finally recognise their wartime contribution as “farcical”.

David Cameron announced that the heroic seaman would receive a medal directly from the British government, acknowledging their stoic efforts during the Second World War.

ROLL OF HONOUR: Major Norman Batey Pigg and the magnificent medals that will be auctioned in Boldon this week.

ROLL OF HONOUR: Major Norman Batey Pigg and the magnificent medals that will be auctioned in Boldon this week.

The Prime Minister told MPs in the House of Commons: “Some of the brave men will get the recognition they so richly deserve.”

However, former Merchant Navy seaman John Clayburn, from Fulwell, said: “It is somewhat late in the day. There are not many of us left.

“I think there are only seven of us left in the Convoy club, and we are losing members all the time.

“It is way overdue and it all seems a bit farcical really.”

John Brook with his wife Maureen Brook.  Merchant Seaman

John Brook with his wife Maureen Brook. Merchant Seaman

John, 87, who is from a seafaring family – his father and grandfather were in the Merchant Navy – served in the last convoys in 1945.

“I had an easy time of it really,” he told the Echo.

“I was watching a programme on the convoys and what some of the men went through was unbelievable.

“I wonder if this decision has come off the back of the Russian medal, which the Government have stopped us from receiving.”

The Arctic Convoys supplied Russia with vital fuel, food and munitions in tough conditions.

Maureen Brook, 71, from Farringdon, has been appealing to the Government to posthumously award her late husband John campaign medals he never received.

John, a former Merchant Navy seaman who served on the Arctic Convoys, died in October aged 90.

Maureen, who has been helped in her appeal by Hougthon and Sunderland South MP Bridget Phillipson, said: “It is about time someone recognised the men for what they did.

“It is a disgrace the way they were treated by the Government and the fact that they have never been recognised.

“I tried to get John medals when he was alive and I couldn’t do that, so now I just hope I can get these for his grandchildren, so they have something to keep.”

The Prime Minister announced his recommendation that the Honours & Decorations Committee proceed with awarding the Arctic Convoy Star, subject to approval by the Queen, following a report by former diplomat Sir John Holmes.

Mr Cameron said: “I’m delighted to be able to tell the House that we have reached a resolution.

“On the Arctic Convoys, Sir John has recommended, and I fully agree, that we will be issuing an Arctic campaign medal.”

Twitter: @Monica_Turnbull