VETERANS of the Arctic Convoys should be awarded a medal in recognition of their bravery while a few are still alive, according to a Hampshire MP.

Caroline Dinenage, the Conservative MP for Gosport, said those who served on merchant ships delivering supplies to Stalin’s Red Army on the Eastern Front faced horrific conditions during the Second World War but had yet to be awarded a medal for their courage.

There are now only 200 surviving veterans, she said, as she called on the Ministry of Defence to stop dithering with a review which had already been delayed by 18 months.

She added: “These men are not politicians. At their age they should not have to fight for justice and it appals me that people who gave up so much to ensure the freedoms that we take on a daily basis for granted should have to beg for the recognition that they deserve.

“Successive Conservative leaders have committed in opposition to this medal without review and it is dreadful that it has to be reviewed again and again.

“Time is not on the side of these brave gentlemen.”

She said it would be “utterly, utterly disgusting” if a medal were awarded after all the veterans had died.

Veterans minister Andrew Robathan insisted it was not for politicians to decide who was awarded a medal.

He said: “The decision will be taken by the Medals Review, quite rightly, and should be a decision which relates to those who know all the facts and take a view dependent on the respect they have for our veterans and make that decision forthwith.”