Listening to the radio this morning I heard that at last veterans of the WWII Arctic Convoys and of Bomber Command would at last be recognised for their contribution to the fight against Nazi Germany. A special medal has been created - The Arctic Star - for naval veterans and the Bomber Command clasp for veterans of the air campaign. Up to 25,000 veterans or their widows will be able to apply for the medal. Next of kin can also apply on behalf of deceased veterans.
I have met veterans of both groups and talked with them about their wartime service, and know they all deserve this new and long overdue acknowledgement.
The Bomber command guys in particular have spent most of their lives since the war under a cloud of post war revisionist thinking about the morality of the strategic bombing campaign. For me the rights and wrongs of the policy of strategic bombing should always have been treated as a separate issue and should never have been allowed to tarnish the reputations of these airmen. Over 55,000 of their comrades died carrying out their orders over France and Germany and their bravery and devotion to duty should never have been in question.
Sadly it has taken over 60 years for the recognition they deserve and for many of these veterans this award is far far too late.
Well put Lee, and as you say far far to late.ReplyDelete
A well deserved acknowledgement for those that served their country. But for me too little too late!ReplyDelete
Finally! Bomber Command's losses outstripped all other British fighting arms (in percentage terms). I'm also amazed that the Arctic Convoy veterans hadn't been recognised until now!ReplyDelete
Massively overdue recognition of the efforts and sacrifices they made.ReplyDelete
Did anyone else see the news last month, the Russian government has already produced a medal for British and allied sailors who worked on the Arctic convoy's, BUT, the UK government has refused permission for the medals to be given out, that's why they have now produced a UK version of the medal.ReplyDelete
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About damn time indeed. Saw the unveiling ceremony for the memorial on Youtube. Is it wrong for a Yank to have a tear in his eye as the Lanc did the "bomb run" with the poppies?ReplyDelete
About time. This award is long overdue and it's a testament to the Civil Service that it's taken the best part of a century for the cogs to turn.ReplyDelete
But, (devil's advocate here), there has been a lot of bashing of the MoD's medals system in general which I don't think is justified. The UK has some of the strictest criteria for the award of medals and everything should be done to safeguard that system. It's what gives UK awards such prestige abroad, and why the Victoria Cross for example is considered superior to most senior foreign gallantry awards - because we don't hand them out like sweeties.
So I think the MoD are justified in treating all postwar applications for a new medal with some caution. To not receive a medal for a given campaign is not, as the papers often claim, saying that 'veterans don't deserve it', it's simply saying the theatre in which they served wasn't big enough to warrant an award distinct from the '39 - '45 Medal.
That said, I think the scale of the two conflicts being discussed here are easily 'over the threshold' and this is a long overdue announcement. It's a shame that so many veterans aren't around to see this day, but at least it's happened.
Good post. Agree.ReplyDelete
I wonder if those who served in the Merchant Marine are able to apply for the Arctic medal, or if it's only for USN.ReplyDelete
Good news and long overdue. What they did - and were asked to do by the government of the day - was gutsy stuff by anyone's standards and deserves to be recognised. I'm assuming the Merchant Marine qualify for the Artic Medal: if not I'm appalled.ReplyDelete