Arctic convoys hero finally gets his medal

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A World War Two veteran who braved freezing conditions as well as the threat of Nazi attacks to help run shipping convoys in the Arctic has finally received a medal.

Ken Burkinshaw, aged 89, from Hoyland, was presented with his Arctic Star by Barnsley East MP Michael Dugher, in recognition of his service with the Royal Navy.

He joined as a 16-year-old in 1940 and was posted on the HMS Sheffield, completing nine trips to Britain’s wartime ally the USSR in temperatures of minus 35 to 40C.

Ken stayed with the Navy until 1957, achieving the rank of Chief Petty Officer before retiring from the forces.

After presenting Ken with his medal, Mr Dugher said: “This recognition is scandalously overdue. Everyone in Barnsley is so proud and pleased that Ken’s service and sacrifice has finally been honoured.”

Veterans of the Arctic convoys had long campaigned for their own medal – but formal recognition was delayed for decades due to the politics of the Cold War era.

By the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, veterans were denied recognition because of a rule stating medals may only be awarded within five years of a war’s end.

Only a few hundred Arctic convoy veterans are still alive.

Ken said: “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time.”