Stazjia’s Commentary

Brave beyond belief

Posted on: October 31, 2008

Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher GC - Picture Crown Copyright

Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher GC - Picture Crown Copyright

Yesterday, Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher of the Royal Marines was awarded the George Cross by HM the Queen at Buckingham Palace in London. The George Cross is the highest award given to civilians and military who performed “acts of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger” but, in the case of the military, not in the presence of an enemy.

Lance Corporal Croucher was serving in Afghanistan in February 2008 when he felt a wire against his leg. He immediately realised that he had come into contact with booby trapped grenade. His three comrades were behind him and he knew that they all would be either killed or terribly injured. He threw himself on the ground with his back, on which he had a large backpack, towards the grenade, curled into a fetal position with his legs tucked up and his head down. He said:

A grenade’s usually got a 5m killing circumference. So I thought, I’m going to get seriously injured whatever I do so I might as well jump in front of the grenade and at least try and save the rest of the lads from getting seriously injured or killed themselves. So I lay in front of the grenade.

The grenade exploded but, amazingly, he received no significant injuries, just a nosebleed and bad bruising. His comrades were unscathed apart from a small face wound to one from a fragment of shrapnel. His backpack had saved his life and a large lithium battery in the pack took the brunt of the explosion. Unsurprisingly, the backpack was in tatters. When he was interviewed this morning he said he would never part with it.

His bravery didn’t end there. Experience has taught the military in Afghanistan that an explosion will draw in Taliban fighters to finish off any survivors of their booby traps. The patrol hid in a ditch and waited then engaged the Taliban in a fire fight.

He is modest too. He said:

Being awarded the George Cross is a huge honour, for me and for 40 Commando. But there are so many acts of bravery by the lads that don’t make it into the press. It’s all part of the job – they would have done the same. You just do it.

Whether you agree or not with the wars in Afghanistan or Iraq, such outstanding courage deserved to be recognised.

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