East Ham veteran’s anger over war medal

John Seares, 90 with the letter he received from Russian government.

John Seares, 90 with the letter he received from Russian government. - Credit: Archant

A World War Two veteran is angry that Government red tape is standing in the way of him getting a medal for serving on the Arctic Convoys.

John Seares, now aged 90, joined the Royal Navy in 1942 and served for four years on HMS Belfast. Of those he spent 14 months on the Arctic Convoys ferrying essential food, medicine and armaments to Russia during the Second World War.

Like many other veterans, he was only recently presented with the Arctic Star by Prime Minister David Cameron at10 Downing Street.

However John, who lives in William Morley Close in East Ham, is angry that although the Russian Embassy has written to veterans saying it wants to bestow the gift of the Ushakov Medal, the British government has refused permission. Veterans from other parts of the world have already received the prestigious medal.

John said: “I have a letter from the Russian President saying he wants us to have the Ushakov Medal, as a gift but the government is saying if you haven’t done anything for the last five years you can’t have it. How are we supposed to do that? We are all coming up to our 90s.”

John said there was a lot of prestige attached to the medal and it meant a great deal to him and other veterans.

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We very much appreciate the Russian Government’s wish to recognise the brave and valuable service given by veterans of the Arctic Convoys.

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“However, the Rules on the acceptance of foreign awards clearly state that in order for permission to be given for an award to be accepted, there has to have been specific service to the country concerned and that that service should have taken place within the previous five years.

“Additionally, permission cannot be granted if they have received, or are expected to receive, a UK award for the same services.”