Redcar Arctic Convoys veteran receives highest Russian honour

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WW2 Arctic Convoys veteran, John Ramsey, was today presented with two Russian medals by Anna Turley, Labour and Co-operative MP for Redcar.

With an audience of history students at Sacred Heart School, John was presented with the Ushakov medal, one of the highest Russian state award for bravery and courage. He has also received a special 70th Anniversary medal.

John campaigned over a number of years for the Arctic Convoy veterans to receive the recognition that they had been offered by the Russian Government.

Between August 1941 and May 1945 78 convoys delivered much needed war supplies to the Soviet Union. More than 3,000 men died during the maritime campaign that Winston Churchill called the "worst journey in the world" due to the constant threat of German attack and the severe cold conditions.

The Russian Embassy wrote to survivors in May 2012 informing them it intended to award them with the Medal of Ushakov as a symbol of the country's gratitude. However, the move was initially blocked by the Foreign Office as it broke rules preventing British soldiers from receiving foreign medals for acts which happened more than five years ago.

In 2013 John and his fellow seamen received a British campaign medal, the Arctic Star, in recognition of their role. However, John did not stop campaigning and the British Government has now agreed that the war heroes can accept the honours that the Russians have wanted to present for decades.

Speaking after the event, Anna said:

“It was an honour and a privilege to present John with his new medals - a real Redcar hero. It is great to see him and his fellow navy men receiving full recognition for their bravery. Many of the freedoms we enjoy today are ours to enjoy because of the sacrifices of John’s generation – we owe them so much.

“I hope the students from Sacred Heart and other schools with whom John has shared his experiences over the years, are inspired by his bravery to do great things.”

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