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Medals campaign peaks with London demo

The fight for a medal to recognise the sacrifices of the Arctic Campaign heroes of the Second World War will be taken to Tony Blair tomorrow in a demonstration organised by The News, Portsmouth.

Campaigners from around the country will descend on the capital to march in support of the newspaper’s Last Chance For Justice crusade.

Veterans of the Arctic Campaign and their supporters are due to march along Parliament Street and Whitehall tomorrow afternoon, with a delegation led by veterans’ leader Cdr Eddie Grenfell and the editor of The News, Mike Gilson, presenting a 40,000 signature petition at Downing Street.

The Last Chance for Justice petition was launched by The News on January 5 because of the Government’s continuing refusal to honour the men who fought in sub-zero horrendous conditions to keep Russia supplied in the Second World War.

The Arctic Campaign took place between 1941 and 1945 and involved taking supplies of weapons, food, fuel and other resources to the Russian Army. Without the efforts of both the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy, Russia could have been defeated by the Germans leaving the Allies with an almost impossible task to win the Second World War.

But, despite their huge success and the unique harshness of a campaign that involved cold of -30C, the veterans were not awarded a medal after the war.

Instead they were offered the Atlantic Star, which was for a different campaign. To add insult to injury a six-month qualification period for the Atlantic Star meant that the crews on just six of the 670 Arctic ships could qualify. All other Second World War campaign medals had a one-day qualification period.

Mike Gilson said: “We hope this petition and the huge support we have received from all corners of Britain will finally persuade Mr Blair to award an Arctic Star.”

Coaches have been booked to bring veterans and their families and supporters from towns and cities across Britain. Dozens of readers of The News have signed up to join the march and will travel by coach to London together with Portsmouth veterans and News staff.

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