Hampshire Arctic Convoy War veterans to finally receive medals

Basingstoke Gazette: Roy Dykes, 92, has been fighting for 16 years to get a medal as a veteran of the Arctic Convoy War Roy Dykes, 92, has been fighting for 16 years to get a medal as a veteran of the Arctic Convoy War

IT was a day hundreds have been waiting for when David Cameron revealed that the Arctic Convoy War veterans would finally be given a British medal for their service.

A journey described by Winston Churchill as “the worst journey in the world,” those who risked their lives during World War Two will are to be given the recognition they have waited more than 50 years to receive.

Roy Dykes, 92, from Lynch Hill Park, Whitchurch, has been a member of the Winchester Royal Naval Association for more than 20 years, and served on HMS Honeysuckle between 1941 and 1945.

Mr Dykes has been fighting 16 years to reach this day, but was disappointed to hear it will take the Ministry of Defence six months to decide how to manufacture the medals.

He said: “It was excellent news, but we have waited long enough. If only the MoD co-operated, but they completely ignore us.

“It has been two-and-a-half years with this new government and we have heard nothing, in spite of the fact Mr Cameron promised to give us a medal. “We came out of the war having fought, and the fight just continued — it is very frustrating, 16 years and it is still going to take them six months to make up their minds.

“But the award is brilliant news, and it will be worth the wait when I’ve got the medal in my hands! “It’s just such a shame that so many will not be able to receive it.”

Of the 66,000 sailors who took part in the Arctic Convoys, only 200 are alive today. The government has said that the families of Arctic Convoy War veterans who has passed away will be eligible to collect the medal in their honor.

There is believed to be only one Arctic Convoy War veteran left living in Winchester. John Kilford, 88, from Coles Mede, Otterbourne, said: “They’re a bit late and have dragged their heels. I’m pleased to get it of course, just a bit sorry that so many have passed away.”

Mr Kilford added: “It could have been done much earlier. “I hope I’m still here in six months time, at the moment I’m feeling alright!”

The minister of state for defence personnel, welfare and veterans, Mark Francois, said: “My own father served in World War Two and I believe those that have served our country in the Arctic Convoy deserve nothing but the utmost respect and admiration from us all.

“I am delighted to confirm this special group of men who served will be able to receive a new form of recognition later this year. “We are looking at the implementation of this and hope to make a further announcement by the spring.”

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