Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Isle of Wight veteran can receive Russian bravery medal

Alec Penstone
Image caption Alec Penstone will be honoured by the Russian government

A naval veteran who transported essential supplies to the Soviet Union during World War II is to be given a Russian medal for bravery.

Alec Penstone served on the treacherous Arctic convoys, escorting merchant ships past occupied Norway to Murmansk.

Originally the British Government said veterans would not be allowed to receive the Medal of Ushakov.

Following a U-turn, the 88-year-old Isle of Wight veteran is to be honoured along with 200 other former servicemen.

More than 3,000 men died in the freezing waters of the Arctic in the convoys, as the British transported supplies to their allies in the Soviet Union as part of Operation Dervish.

This year the veterans were given an Arctic Star campaign medal by the British Government, and now they can also be awarded the Medal of Ushakov by Russia.

It follows the British Government's decision to make an exception to the rules on the acceptance of medals from other countries.

Mr Penstone, from Shanklin, said he was "very pleased", after the original disappointment of being told he could not receive the medal.

Recalling the convoys, he said: "It was freezing cold.

"As well as the enemy you had the weather against you.

"You look back and you thank your lucky stars you made it."

According to a spokesman, Prime Minister David Cameron felt it was "only right" the veterans were given the chance to receive and wear a "very high honour" from the Russian state "given all the sacrifices and hardship they undertook for our collective good".

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