Arctic Star presented to Second World War Arctic Convoy veteran Gordon Copson - but still no Ushakov medal

Veteran Gordon Copson receives the Arctic Star from Romford MP Andrew Rosindell

Veteran Gordon Copson receives the Arctic Star from Romford MP Andrew Rosindell - Credit: Archant

Patient Hornchurch veteran Gordon Copson has finally been recognised for his bravery in the Second World War Arctic Convoy missions.

The Arctic Star

The Arctic Star - Credit: Archant

But Mr Copson, 88, is still waiting for the Foreign Office to allow him to receive the medal he was originally offered by the Russian government.

Gordon Copson with his medal (pic: Steve Poston)

Gordon Copson with his medal (pic: Steve Poston) - Credit: Archant

The UK had ruled the Second World War was too long ago for servicemen to be decorated with the Ushakov medal.

Then, in December, it was announced the UK’s own Arctic Star would be given to veterans of the missions, which saw servicemen brave freezing temperatures, enemy bombardment and near-constant darkness to deliver supplies to the Eastern Front during the war.

And last week Romford MP Andrew Rosindell – who mounted a campaign to get the government to reverse its decision on the Ushakov medal – presented Mr Copson with the star.

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“It was a very pleasant afternoon, and it brought back memories,” said Mr Copson, of Bush Elms Road, who was formally handed the medal at Margaret Thatcher House on Friday.

“On one of my first missions a ship was sunk and 217 people were killed. I wasn’t just accepting the medal for myself, but also for those people who were unable to.

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“All I’m hoping now is they might do something about the Ushakov.

“My friend in America sent me an e-mail showing the medal – so at least I’ve seen it.”

Mr Rosindell said: “These daunting missions were of incredible importance in keeping vital supply routes open between our allies. I was delighted to have had the opportunity to host this very special presentation for Gordon, and after 70 long years finally pay a proper tribute to his bravery and service for king and country.

“The vessels that made up the convoys were under constant attack from German U-boats and thousands of allied seaman lost their lives as the Arctic route claimed 104 merchant vessels and 16 military vessels.

“I will continue to lobby for the presentation of the Ushakov medal.”

Three thousand people died in the missions. More than 800 Allied ex-servicemen are eligible to receive the Ushakov medal – with Britain the only country to have blocked it.

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