01 April 2008

Royal Marine recommended for VC

ZUI this article from The Guardian:
A Royal Marine who threw himself over a grenade in southern Afghanistan to shield his comrades from the explosion has been recommended for a Victoria Cross.

Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher, 24, who escaped with a nosebleed after his rucksack took the force of the blast, would be the first marine since 1945 to win Britain's highest military honour.

His three colleagues, who suffered only cuts and bruises in the incident, recommended that the marine reservist from Birmingham be honoured for his bravery.

ZUI also this article from The Times:
Lance Corporal Croucher and his troop were on patrol last month near their base in Sangin, Helmand province, when he stepped into a tripwire that pulled the pin from a boobytrap grenade.

He said: “I thought, I’ve set this bloody thing off and I’m going to do whatever it takes to protect the others. I’m very tight with the three other guys. There have been a few times when they have saved my bacon.

“I knew a grenade like this has a killing circumference of about five metres. So I got down with my back to the grenade and used my body as a shield. It was a case of either having four of us as fatalities or badly wounded, or one.”


Although medical staff wanted to evacuate him, Lance Corporal Croucher insisted on finishing his mission. His colleagues passed a citation – which has to be considered by various committees before any awards are given – to their commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Stuart Birrell, soon afterwards.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence said: “We’re months away from a decision. But clearly this guy is very brave. And very, very lucky.”

The Victoria Cross was introduced by Queen Victoria in 1856 to reward acts of valour during the Crimean War. Only two have been awarded since 2000. Such is the level of courage required for the medal that it is estimated that the chances of surviving an act worthy of its award are one in ten.

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