Arctic Star and Bomber Command Clasp: Eligibility criteria and how to apply

The Prime Minister announced on 19 December 2012 that veterans of the Arctic Convoys in the Second World War would be awarded an Arctic Star and that the veterans of Bomber Command would be awarded a clasp to the 1939-1945 Star.The Government has now (26 Mar 2013) announced the eligibility criteria for these awards, along with details of how to apply.

Priority in issuing the awards will now be given to surviving veterans and widows. It is expected that up to a quarter of a million veterans and families of those veterans who have since passed away, will be eligible to receive the awards and that the first medals will be awarded in March 2013.

The House of Commons Library has issued a useful Standard Note which is primarily intended to assist MPs in advising their constituents, but veterans can access it directly:

BAFF Comment: While we are aware that not everyone agrees with the decision to create these awards so long after the event, the fact is that that they have been authorised under all the appropriate procedures, and have the same validity as any other British operational award approved by HM The Queen. They are, of course, also thoroughly deserved. No eligible veteran should feel the slightest shyness about applying for their award and wearing it with pride. Congratulations!

Those assisting eligible veterans please note. Families of those Arctic or Bomber Command veterans who have since passed away are also eligible to apply, but priority in issue will quite rightly be given to surviving veterans.

Eligibility criteria (based on House of Commons Library Note - see link above)

Arctic Star

The qualifying period for the Arctic Star is “service of any length” north of the Arctic Circle between 3 September 1939 and 8 May 1945. More specifically:

Royal Navy and Merchant Navy – Naval and Merchant Navy service anywhere at sea north of the Arctic Circle to include, but not limited exclusively to, those ships participating in, and in support of, the convoys to Northern Russia. Fleet Air Arm personnel, not qualified by sea service may qualify under the conditions applying to the Royal Air Force.

Royal Air Force – Aircrew of the Royal Air Force will be eligible if they landed north of the Arctic Circle or served in the air over this area. Non aircrew on operational service in the area, for example ground crew or those sailing with Catapult Aircraft Merchant Ships, will also be eligible.

Army – Army personnel serving on His Majesty’s ships or in defensively equipped Merchant ships will qualify under the rules applying to the Navy or Merchant Navy. In addition, personnel taking part in land operations north of the Arctic Circle will also be eligible.

Civilians serving with the Forces – Members of the few approved categories of civilians who qualify for Campaign Stars will be eligible if, in support of military operations, they meet any of the above qualifying criteria.

Foreign nationals commissioned or enlisted into the British or, the then, Dominion Forces (for example the Royal Canadian Navy or the Royal Australian Navy) will also be eligible provided that they did not receive a similar award from their own Government.

Bomber Command Clasp

Eligibility for the Bomber Command Clasp will require prior qualification for the 1939-1945 Star, with the additional requirement that veterans must have flown at least one operational sortie with a Bomber Command operational unit between 3 September 1939 and 8 May 1945.

The 1939-1945 Star was awarded for six months service (a completed tour of operations), or 2 months for operational aircrew, under operational command between 3 September 1939 and 2 September 1945. A Battle of Britain clasp was awarded to the aircrew of fighter aircraft engaged in the Battle of Britain between 10 July and 31 October 1940.

Eligibility for the Bomber Command Clasp is also extended to those aircrew who did not meet the qualifying criteria for the 1939-1945 Star due to service being brought to an end by death, wounds or other service-related disability, service marked by a gallantry award or by being taken as a prisoner of war.

Like the Arctic Star foreign nationals commissioned or enlisted into the British or, the then, Dominion Air Forces will also be eligible, provided that they did not receive a similar award from their own Government.

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