CHARLES GRAHAM - Recognised but only in hindsight

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IT is never too late to right a wrong.

And this week members of a rapidly dwindling band of heroes were finally honoured for their brave deeds during the Second World War.

Why the sailors who protected the Arctic Convoys had been overlooked for more than 70 years is beyond me.

Thousands lost their lives escorting supplies from the West to our Russian allies through waters made hostile by both the weather and the German navy.

It was a vital piece of strategy which meant that Hitler’s troops could be attacked from both sides of Europe and in Africa at the same time, although Stalin wasn’t exactly falling over himself in gratitude to us either because he wanted Churchill and co to throw all their troops at the eastern front too.

But over the decades since, those servicemen who survived the Convoy mission have got used to being under-appreciated. Some have campaigned, others just shrugged and modestly got on with life.

As an 18-year-old, my dad’s first taste of active service was in the North Atlantic where, as a rating aboard HMS Norfolk, he saw friends killed in a shell bombardment and then played a part in the hunting down and sinking Germany’s number two battleship, the Scharnhorst.

Dad had a few medals from later campaigns in the Far East but never got official recognition for what turned out to be the most perilous episode of his wartime exploits, but I don’t ever remember him complaining about that.

He joined the big fleet in the sky three years ago so he misses out on this week’s retrospective medal-conferrings. But I am still proud of him and delighted that his surviving peers have been honoured at long, long last.