VETERANS of the Arctic Convoys will finally be decorated by Britain for their Second World War service.

The application process is now open for the likes of Bexleyheath resident Arthur Gardner, 86, and 89-year-old Vaughan Williams from Wilmington to apply for the Arctic Star after waiting almost 68 years since the end of the war to be officially honoured.

Faygate Crescent resident Mr Gardner says he is "pleased as punch" to finally be getting the medal but added: "It’s too late now for all the boys that have died."

Great-grandfather of three Mr Williams said: “I did not expect to get this medal in my lifetime.

“I’m really delighted and this means a great deal that my country has rewarded mine and many others' efforts.”

Production of the new Arctic Star medal has started with living veterans and widows the first in line to receive the new awards from as early as the end of March.

Bexleyheath and Crayford MP David Evennett welcomed the announcement by defence minister Mark Francois.

He said: "I am delighted that these new awards will give specific recognition for the bravery of Arctic Convoy and Bomber Command veterans."

Dartford MP Gareth Johnson added: "This mission was widely recognised as one of the most dangerous and difficult for servicemen the Second World War to serve on.

"It is therefore only right that those who served on the Arctic Convoys are finally rewarded for their courage and determination."

The convoys delivered vital supplies to the Soviet Union so it could fight Nazi Germany on the Eastern Front at the cost of more than 3,000 sailors who perished in often horrendous Arctic conditions.

Details and an application form to apply for a medal can be found at or by telephoning 08457 800 900.