Friday, 7 November 2014

Medals For Heroes

The Arctic Convoys were the ships that supplied Russian with much needed weapons, ammunition and supplies to fight Hitler with in WWII. More than 3,000 seamen were killed on 78 convoys which delivered 4m tons of cargo. It is thought that only 200 of the 66,500 men who sailed on the convoys are alive today.

Tommy Jess is one of the heroes from the convoys, on his fifth convoy mission across the Baltic Sea his ship, the HMS Lapwing, was torpedoed. It sank in 10 minutes taking 180 men with it.

Three years ago the Russian Embassy wrote to him saying how they would like to honour him with the Russian Ushakov medal for his service during that time, months later another letter arrived saying that they had to withdraw the honour because the British government wouldn't allow it.

The British government can be right cunts at times and this was one of those times. Rather than honouring those who took part in such operations that deserved recognition they would say 'well it wouldn't be fair to others who did the same thing elsewhere' .... they can't fucking focus, they have to over think things and be fair to everyone in case someone was offended which ends in offending people of course.

The British soldiers who fought during the Korean conflict were offered a medal by the South Koreans but the British government said no, years later New Zealand soldiers were allowed (by the Queen) to accept the medal and now British soldiers can too.  It's usually given to the soldier if they return to Korea though it can be sent out if the soldier is too ill to travel.

This is a time sensitive issue, so many who deserved recognition for doing a dangerous job that gave South Korea the freedom it has today have died without being remembered and thanked. When British troops came back from Korea there were no parades, people just wanted to forget about war after being through WWII, many didn't even know where Korea was.

For years the firemen in Northern Ireland got no recognition for their role during the Troubles. Coming under fire to prevent them from putting out fires and having to clear up the bodies from the bomb blasts it was only in 2000 did they finally get awarded medals for their service at that time.

So many of those on the Arctic Convoys have died with hardly any mention of the risks they took and the friends they lost. These stories are echoed all over the world, the bad guy who shoots up a school gets more recognition than the heroes do and that isn't right because the world needs heroes to remind us how good we can be especially during the rise of groups like ISIS who let toddlers play football with severed heads.

Tommy and his wife.

Last December David Cameron bowed to pressure from the sheer outrage of not giving medals to these heroes and Tommy Jess the 91 year-old grandfather of 10 got his medal at a fancy ceremony from the Russian ambassador, unlike how he got his Arctic star from the British government, by post. 
"I'm delighted that it's happened. When I think of those who didn't survive, relatives will get it for them, but it's not the same. I wish it had happened a bit sooner but you can't have everything, that's politics."  
A young Tommy.

You don't do your job for medals nor do you go looking for them but it is nice to be remembered and to know you were appreciated and those who didn't come back also get remembered. 

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