Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Medals Plea for Convoy Heroes

Featured in the Ross-Shire Journal

Published: 17 October 2008

Image: The memorial gathering on the shores of Loch Ewe, by Colin Robertson

EASTER Ross-based MSP Rob Gibson has lodged a heartfelt appeal to the new Defence Secretary to honour veterans of the Arctic convoy with a medal.

His letter to John Hutton follows a speech made by the youngest survivor of the convoy, Jock Dempster, during a commemoration on the shores of Loch Ewe in which he expressed his sadness that the UK Government had decided not to mark their services with a medal.

Mr Gibson said, "Winston Churchill described their route as the 'worst journey in the world' with good reason. The convoy was of the utmost importance to the war effort. Those who took part not only had to contend with enemy fire but also vicious weather.

"The survivors deserve a medal which can be worn with pride on their chest. It is disappointing that all that has been given to them is a badge, which is no bigger than a five pence piece, and which can only be worn on the lapel. For me and the bulk of people that does not sum up the supreme efforts that those of the convoy made.

The memorial gathering on the shores of Loch Ewe. Colin Robertson

"The UK Government should take the lead from the Russian Government who has given a medal to all of the survivors of the convoy. Russia recognises the vital impact that the convoy made and the dangerous route it travelled, it is time that the UK does too."

Mr Gibson has also lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament calling for a medal of recognition which follows:

S3M-02700 Rob Gibson (Highlands and Islands) (Scottish National Party): Award a UK Medal to Arctic Convoy Crews— That the Parliament backs calls for veterans of the World War II Arctic convoys to be given medals by the UK Government; recognises the supreme effort and sacrifice made by those who undertook what Winston Churchill described as "the worst journey in the world"; feels that the Arctic Star badge, which is no bigger than a five pence piece and is allowed to be worn only on the lapel, is not a sufficient award for the vastly important job that the crews of the convoys undertook, and calls on the powers that be in the United Kingdom to follow the lead of the Russian Government, which has awarded the National 40th Anniversary Commemorative Medal for the Patriotic War to all remaining survivors of these convoys.

Supported by: Kenneth Gibson, Shirley-Anne Somerville, Stuart McMillan, Keith Brown, Bob Doris, John Scott, Dr Bill Wilson, Dr Alasdair Allan, Bill Kidd, Brian Adam, Jamie Hepburn, Christina McKelvie, Michael Matheson, Robin Harper, Dave Thompson, Mike Pringle, Gil Paterson

Lodged on Friday, October 10, 2008; Current

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