The Tinker has been to a ceremony organised by the Russian Government, who have been assiduous in ensuring that all the Arctic Convoy veterans around the country are receiving their Ushakov Medal in an atmosphere of ceremony and respect...
The medal is awarded to sailors who have displayed courage in the course of defending Russia or its interests.
Created by the Allied Powers, the Arctic Convoys sailed through blinding snow storms and darkness under a barrage of attack from German U-boats and fighter planes to deliver vital supplies to the Soviet Union in Northern Russia.
More than 3,000 men died during the maritime campaign that Winston Churchill was said to have called the “worst journey in the world”, and by May 1945, the Arctic route had claimed 104 merchant and 16 military vessels.
The Foreign Office initially did not allow Russia to honour the veterans as it broke their rules which do not allow British soldiers to receive a foreign medal if the act happened more than five years ago.
Following a concerted campaign in 2013, they allowed an exception to the rule and President Putin presented the first medals during his visit to London on June 16 2013.
This unlike the British medal which arrived in the post...and when I shared this comparison with local MP Ben Bradshaw, who was there, he was visibly shocked.
We had a really wonderful morning at County Hall in Exeter, a truly memorable moment for Bookhound, the Kayaker and me, and for the whole family, as we looked on with pride, and for the Tinker who felt that someone had truly appreciated what they had achieved. The Russian attache was superb, speaking properly and at length to each veteran in turn and thanking them...it was all very moving.
With the Kayaker who took photos (this one along with others on the Devon County Council website)