A British soldier who showed “complete disregard” for his own safety has won the Victoria Cross for his role in a gun battle in Afghanistan.
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey will receive the honour following a combined US/UK assault on a Taliban stronghold in Helmand Province in 2013.
His group came under attack from around 20 insurgents armed with machine guns and rocket propelled grenades.
Under heavy fire he ran to the top of a hill where he realised two friendly machine gun teams had been surrounded.
He then moved back down the hill to give first aid to a US Marine Corps captain and began casualty evacuation.
Despite being the most junior member of the group, he returned to the top of the hill to take control of a machine gun, before moving position to fire on the enemy.
Again Lance Cpl Leakey ran 200 metres down the hill, this time to pick up a second machine gun. In 45 degree heat he clambered back up again with 60lbs of equipment on his back, drawing fire.
The troops around him were inspired by his actions and started fighting back.
During the battle, 11 insurgents were killed and four wounded.
According to his citation, his “gritty leadership” well-above his junior rank, “single-handedly regained the initiative and prevented considerable loss of life”.
On hearing the news he was to receive the British armed forces’ highest military honour, he said: “Why me? Why on earth have they picked me out for this.
“It’s amazing to receive this, it’s outrageous really. But it represents something more than just me, my mates who were there with me at the time, the rest of that tour, all the other tours the battalion has done and the regiment as well.”
The Head of the Army, General Sir Nicholas Carter, clearly moved when announcing the honour , said he was “humbled to award him the Victoria Cross”.
The award comes almost 70 years after another member of his family was given the same honour.
His second cousin twice removed, Sergeant Nigel Gray Leakey, was a posthumous recipient of the Victoria Cross in November 1945 for his gallantry while fighting in Africa during the Second World War.
Let me add my personal thank you Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey.