31 October 2008

George Cross presented to RM reservist

ZUI this article from the MOD Defence News:
Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher, the first reservist to receive either a Victoria Cross or a George Cross since operations began in Iraq and Afghanistan received his George Cross from Her Majesty The Queen today, Thursday 30 October 2008.

The Royal Marine reservist was awarded the nation's highest honour after he dived on a live grenade to save his comrades in Afghanistan.


LCpl Croucher was part of the Commando Reconnaissance Force tasked on 9 February 2008 to conduct reconnaissance of a compound in which it was suspected that Taliban fighters manufactured Improvised Explosive Devices.

LCpl Croucher was at the head of the team as they moved silently through the darkened compound when he felt a wire go tight against his legs. This was a trip-wire connected to a grenade booby-trap, positioned to kill or maim intruders in the compound. He heard the fly-off lever eject and the grenade, now armed, fell onto the ground immediately beside him.

He quickly acted on instinct and threw himself beside the grenade, pinning it between his day-sack and the ground to absorb the explosion. Amazingly, he survived virtually unscathed when his body armour and the rucksack on his back absorbed most of the explosion.

His commanding officer at the time, Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Birrell, said:
"The award of the George Cross is a fantastic achievement for Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher who demonstrated quite exceptional courage and selflessness to protect his comrades. The 40 Commando deployment was a challenging and difficult operation which brought out the very best in all the men and women within the battle group; nowhere was this more apparent than in the actions of Matthew Croucher who accepted great personal risk to save his fellow marines. This was a magnificent act which absolutely typified the highest traditions of commando service."


LCpl Croucher served with the regular Royal Marines between November 2000 and September 2005. He has served as a reservist ever since. In addition to his tour in Helmand, he has also completed three operational tours of Iraq. Outside his role as a reservist he is a director of security company Pinnacle Risk Management.

The George Cross ranks with the Victoria Cross as the nation's highest award for gallantry and was instituted in 1940 to recognise actions of supreme gallantry in circumstances for which the Victoria Cross was not appropriate. Thus, it may be awarded to civilians, as well as members of the Armed Forces for acts of gallantry not in the presence of the enemy, including, for example, military explosive ordnance disposal personnel.

The Queen also presented a Distinguished Flying Cross to RN helicopter pilot Lieutenant Nichol Benzie, for saving the lives of British troops wounded in Afghanistan.

Update 1237 5 Nov: ZUI also this article from the Daily Mail.

MOD photograph © Crown Copyright/MOD 2008

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