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Veteran, 84, urges Foreign Office to allow Russian medal

THE youngest surviving veteran of the Arctic convoys yesterday called for the Foreign Office to see sense and allow the heroes to accept medals from Russia.

The British Arctic convoy heroes risked their lives to help transport vital supplies to the Soviet Union during the Second World War.

Veterans, who have fought for recognition for years, celebrated this week when Prime Minister David Cameron said they would be awarded campaign medals.

But Jock Dempster, chairman of the Russian Convoy Association (Scotland), said the fight was not over as the Foreign Office had blocked Russia's attempts to honour them.

Russia has already awarded the Ushakov medal to veterans from the US, Canada and other countries for their role in the perilous sea campaign, described by Winston Churchill as the worst journey in the world.

Mr Dempster, 84, who lied about his age so he could sail on a tanker taking fuel to the Soviet port of Murmansk aged 16, said: "Our Foreign and Commonwealth Office have refused permission for Russia to give us these medals and for us to wear them. The very sad thing about it is there are only about 200 of us left up and down the country. I'm the youngest at 84."

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