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.