I am pleased to be able to provide further details of the new Arctic Star and Bomber Command clasp to the House today. This follows Sir John Holmes’ independent medal review and the announcement by the Prime Minister, on 19 December 2012, that these awards should be made in recognition of the great bravery of those who contributed to two very significant campaigns of world war two.
Since the Prime Minister’s announcement, I have ensured that the necessary work on matters such as design, manufacture and eligibility criteria has been undertaken as quickly as possible in order to get medals and clasps to veterans and widows as soon as we can. We estimate that up to 120,000 veterans or next of kin could be eligible for the Arctic Star and 125,000 for the Bomber Command clasp.
Her Majesty the Queen has now approved designs for the new awards on the basis of recommendations made by the Royal Mint advisory committee. The design for the Arctic Star is based on the other world war two stars and the Bomber Command clasp, to be worn on the ribbon of the 1939 to 1945 star, follows the design of the Battle of Britain clasp.
Production of both awards is now getting under way and we should be in a position to present the first awards in a few weeks time. Both the Arctic Star and Bomber Command clasp are available to veterans and to the next of kin of those who are deceased. Priority in issuing the awards will be given to veterans and widows. Other next of kin may also apply now but will have to wait slightly longer to receive their award.
The qualifying period for the Arctic Star is “service of any length” recognising the particular severity of the conditions experienced by those who served in the Arctic. While the primary intent is to recognise those who served on the Arctic convoys, eligibility is extended to include all who served north of the Arctic circle in world war two. Those eligible will include members of all three services as well of course as the merchant navy who crewed the ships taking the vital supplies to Russia.
The criteria for the Bomber Command clasp requires prior qualification for the 1939 to 1945 star, to which it will be affixed, with the additional requirement to have flown at least one operational sortie with a Bomber Command operational unit. A clasp was deemed more appropriate, by Sir John, in the case of Bomber Command as aircrew had already received either the aircrew Europe star or the France and Germany star and another medal would have constituted “double-medalling” for the same service.
Eligible veterans and next of kin are now encouraged to apply for the new awards and details, including an application form, can be found at: www.veterans-uk.info or by telephoning the MOD medal office on 08457 800 900, a local rate number.
Details of the designs of the Arctic Star and Bomber Command clasp and the eligibility criteria have been placed in the Library of the House.