• The Young Contemptible: William Hague.

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    The recent announcement by the Russians that they wish to award the Ushakov Medal to those brave men who sailed on the Arctic Convoys of WWII is most welcome.

    “The Old Contemptibleshes” were of course the British Expeditionary Force or BEF sent to the Western Front during World War I. Kaiser Wilhelm, who was famously dismissive of the BEF, reportedly issued an order on 19th August 1914 to “exterminate…the treacherous English and walk over General French’s contemptible little army”. Hence, in later years, the survivors of the regular army dubbed themselves “The Old Contemptibles”. No evidence of any such order being issued by the Kaiser has ever been found. It was likely a British propaganda invention, albeit one often repeated as fact.

    What undoubtedly is fact however is William Hague’s decision to refuse to allow British veterans to accept the Ushakov Medal. This is contemptible Clearly Mr Hague must henceforth be dubbed “The Young Contemptible.

    A statement from the Foreign Office said: ‘The rules on the acceptance of foreign awards state that 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.’

    We congratulate however those MP’s who have put forward an Early Day Motion calling on the government to change its mind. Herewith the link:

    Russia has already awarded the Ushakov medal to veterans from Australia, Canada and the U.S. for their role in the Arctic convoys

    On the Foreign Office’s refusal to allow the awards to take place, we leave to the Russians:

    The Russian Embassy in London said: “This decision gives us grounds for deep regret. We hope that the British authorities will reconsider this bureaucratic formality and review their position.”

    Doubtless the government will point to the last government’s decision to award the Arctic Emblem (see below):

    The first Arctic Emblems were presented to veterans on 10th October 2006 by Veterans’ Minister Derek Twigg as a mark of the Nation’s gratitude for the heroism they displayed in the face of terrible hardship on the Arctic Convoys of World War Two. Fittingly, the presentation took place on the quarterdeck of HMS BELFAST on the 65th anniversary of the first regular convoy’s arrival at Archangel, North Russia.

    British Gazette comment: The Arctic Emblem is just that: a badge that can be worn on a lapel. It is NOT the same as a campaign medal – the formal recognition by the state for the services of its military and civilian forces.

    • One hesitates to be offensive on the BG site but it is difficult not to when reading some of your articles. Our government not only wastes decades before they recognize the valour of our service men in the Arctic Convoys, but petulantly refuses an award from another nation that does appreciate their sacrifice and contribution and which other countries found no difficulty in accepting. Shame on the whole pusillanimous bunch of them.

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