IT is gratifying to learn that the Coalition Government at long last has recognised the outstanding bravery of the men who sailed on the Arctic convoys ("Arctic convoy veterans to get medal at last", The Herald, December 20).

One of these convoys, PQ18 in 1942, was under constant attack for 15 days from 225 German aircraft and 36 U-boats. The crews of the ships were continually at action stations and, for most of the time, were unable even to change their clothes. Incredibly, four merchant seamen from the Western Isles of Scotland were killed or decorated for bravery on four of the ships leading the convoy columns: Finlay Ferguson, Harris, killed on SS Empire Stevenson (South Shields); Captain Murdo MacLeod, Lewis, awarded the DSC on SS Empire Snow (London) – later in the war he was lost in the Indian Ocean on SS Fort Buckingham (London); Captain Hugh MacLeod, Tiree, awarded the DSC on SS Dan-y-Bryn (London); and Bosun Donald MacAskill, Uist, awarded the DSM on SS Temple Arch (London).

Another Hebridean seaman was decorated for bravery on one of the naval vessels in the convoy.

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Donald J MacLeod (no relation),

49 Woodcroft Avernue,

Bridge of Don,