Veterans’ long wait for medals is finally over

The Deputy Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire Michael Fox presents the Arctic Star Convoy Medal to members of the Royal British Legion at a ceremony held at Horbury Working Mens Club.'The medal is for veterans who served on Arctic convoys and in Bomber Command during World War 11.'Left to right, Charles Erswell, John Hirst, Don Heighton, Christine Spencer, Co-chairman Royal British Legion, South and West Yorkshire.
The Deputy Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire Michael Fox presents the Arctic Star Convoy Medal to members of the Royal British Legion at a ceremony held at Horbury Working Mens Club.'The medal is for veterans who served on Arctic convoys and in Bomber Command during World War 11.'Left to right, Charles Erswell, John Hirst, Don Heighton, Christine Spencer, Co-chairman Royal British Legion, South and West Yorkshire.
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After waiting 70 years for their sacrifice to be recognised, veterans of the Arctic Convoys were finally presented with their campaign medals.

Russian Convoy Club members John Hirst, Charles Erswell and Don Heighton finally saw the Arctic Star medals pinned to their chests on Monday evening.

The medals were approved by the government earlier this year after a long-fought campaign by veterans.

Mr Hirst, 92, of Westfield Terrace, Horbury, signed up to the Merchant Navy in 1941 and served for six-and-a-half years on board eight different ships.

During that time he was under constant threat of attack by German U-boats and aircraft as the convoys negotiated severe storms, ice floes and endured freezing temperatures.

Between 1941 and 1945 more than 3,000 men died, and 104 merchant ships and 16 military vessels were sunk.

Mr Heighton and Mr Erswell were both members of the Royal Navy. Mr Heighton served on the HMS Rodney and Mr Erswell served on HMS Milne.

The medals were presented to veterans by Michael Fox, the deputy lord lieutenant of West Yorkshire, at the event organised by the Horbury, Sitlington and Ossett branch of the Royal British Legion.

Mr Fox said: “I really do regard it as a great privilege to be allowed to present the Arctic Star medals.

“These men are now well into their 80s and 90s and it has taken years to get this medal to pin on their chests.

“The Russian Convoys Association has been fighting for this medal for a considerable amount of time.

“Many of these medals have just been posted to veterans and, quite rightly, it was felt that things could be done better.”

Christine Spencer, chairman of Royal British Legion, South and West Yorkshire, was also in attendance at the presentation which took place at Horbury Working Mens Club, on Cluntergate.