Newport politicians back Arctic convoy medal call

South Wales Argus: CALL FOR HONOURS: Remembrance service for former merchant navy servicemen, at Mariner’s Green, Newport CALL FOR HONOURS: Remembrance service for former merchant navy servicemen, at Mariner’s Green, Newport

CALLS are being made for merchant navy seamen of the Second World War’s deadly Arctic convoys to be recognised for their sacrifice.

Ed Townsend, councillor for St Julian’s and Newport council’s only Liberal Democrat member, has requested a motion at the council urging the UK government to honour the convoy’s merchant navy seamen’s dedication with a medal.

Bob Bright, Labour leader of the council, has said he will back the motion when it is put to a full council meeting in December.

Recent reports said that the Foreign Office has blocked plans by the Russian government to award veterans of the convoys the medal of Ushakov. The sea campaign saw ships deliver vital supplies to the Soviet Union – 3,000 British sailors died in what was dubbed by some as the “worst journey in the world”. The calls come ahead of the Merchant Navy Association parade in Newport at the Merchant Navy Memorial, Marines Green, on Saturday morning.

But an independent review commissioned by the prime minister David Cameron had said a fresh review of the veterans’ claims for recognition should be a top priority.

Shaun McGuire, author of the Newport War Dead website, said that two ships, the Goolistan and Navarino which were lost in the convoys, would have carried men from Newport.

Cllr Townsend’s motion calls on the council to urge the UK government to “to honour the dedication and sacrifice of the merchant seamen who served their country in the Arctic convoys of the Second World War, by award in a medal.”

It adds: “This is a long overdue acknowledgement and this council believes it should be awarded without delay.”

Cllr Townsend, who is also writing to the prime minister on the issue, said survivors of the convoys can be seen wearing white berets at Remembrance services.

He said: ‘“It strikes me that it is straightforward. There’s a large number of men from Newport that gave their lives. There are survivors in Newport.”

He added that Matthew Evans, leader of the Newport Tory group, said he will second the motion.

Cllr Bright said: “Their journey was a dangerous one, not only under threat from the enemy, but also due to the severe weather and adverse conditions. They displayed tremendous courage and fully deserve recognition.”

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