A medal earned in his 20s arrives as Arctic Convoy veteran turns 93

Cyril Gaunt with his Arctic Convoy medal.

Cyril Gaunt was just 20-years-old when he started earning his Arctic Convoy service medal but turned 93 before he finally received it.  
The veteran said getting it through the post this week - 68 years after the end of the Second World War - had lifted a great weight off his shoulders. The service medal is being sent out to convoy veterans for their role in a mission which Winston Churchill called “the worst journey in the world”. Despite it being widely recognised as a vital part of the war effort - delivering supplies to Russia to help them fight Nazi Germany on the Eastern Front - veterans from these journeys through the Arctic Ocean have never been given their own service medal until now. Mr Gaunt, who lives in Gildersome, was among several members of the West Riding branch of the Russian Convoy Club who meet every month in Dewsbury, who finally got the recognition they deserved this week. But he told the YEP his thoughts were with the men who had served on these missions but died before they could receive a medal to mark the significance of their role. He said: “It has been a long time, 68 years, but to have it now feels like a great weight has been lifted off our shoulders. “It is such a shame that men have died just before they were due to receive them.” It was reported last week that Bernard Calvert, a convoy veteran and a founder of the Wakefield branch of the Royal Society of St George, died aged 87. He was to have received the new Arctic Star medal announced by the Ministry of Defence in February but died before he could claim it. Convoy veteran Ernest Schofield, from Morley, died just after the announcement was made that medals were to be awarded and never heard the news. Mr Gaunt joined the Navy in the summer of 1940 and served on four Arctic Convoy missions delivering supplies to Russia and returning home. He served on Lady Madeleine, as a stoker, and then as a petty officer in the engine room. Before and after the war he worked in textiles. David Gaunt, Cyril’s son, said he was delighted that his father had finally received a medal for his part in a mission which “must have been horrendous”. Members of the West Riding branch of the Russian Convoy Club, whose youngest member is in his mid eighties, will be celebrating the arrival of their Arctic Star medals when they gather for their next meeting at the end of this month. MEDAL HOPE REMAINS THE decision of the Government to award a service medal for the veterans of the Arctic Convoys marks a victory for men who have waited almost 70 years to be recognised. However, they are still campaigning to be allowed to receive a medal which the Russian Government has offered to them for valour at sea. British Arctic Convoy veterans have so far been unable to accept the Ushakov Medal because of rules which state that an award from a foreign country can only be given for a service provided in the past five years. Source: yorkshireeveningpost.  Via: Forces War Records Blog.
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