Russian medal plea

William Wood with his letter from the Russian Embassy and his medals and (below) in his wartime role.
William Wood with his letter from the Russian Embassy and his medals and (below) in his wartime role.
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FRUSTRATED veterans are calling on the Government to allow them to receive war medals which honour their courage.

Cleveleys veteran William Wood says he and other pensioners across the country “feel insulted” the UK Government is refusing to allow them to receive a Russian medal.

William Wood in his wartime role.

William Wood in his wartime role.

Russia wants to award the Medal of Ushakov to Britain’s Arctic convoy veterans as a symbol of the country’s gratitude.

Mr Wood, 87, served on the Merchant Navy vessel Fort Yukon during the Second World War, which was part of convoys carrying vital supplies to Russian troops battling Hitler’s forces.

The crews risked their lives as they came under enemy fire during the perilous journeys.

Mr Wood, who was part of the crew manning the engine room during one of the final convoys in March 1945, said: “Winston Churchill once described it as the most dangerous journey in the world. If you were torpedoed, you could only live for five minutes in the water.

“There are a few of us living on the Fylde who are members of the North West branch of the Russian Convoy Club and we are all upset and feel insulted by the refusal of our Foreign Secretary to grant permission for the award.

“We want the Government to think again. Veterans from Australia, Canada and the US can have it but our Government says we can’t.

“It is ironic our own Government is the only administration among the allied nations to deny its veterans this honour.”

In a letter to Mr Wood, Russian Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko said the Embassy expressed “its profound regret” at being unable to award the medal to honour “the courage and sacrifice of the British heroes of the Arctic Convoys.”

He added they would continue to make the case for the award.

The Foreign Office says it has blocked the request because it would break rules surrounding the acceptance of medals. It says for permission to be given for an award to be accepted, there has to have been specific service within the previous five years.

John Leech, Lib Dem MP for Manchester Withington has lodged an Early Day Motion in Parliament calling on the Government to reconsider its decision.

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