23/07/2008

Marine To Receive George Cross

A brave Royal Marine who threw himself on a grenade is to receive the George Cross.

Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher, 24, from Solihull, Birmingham, will become one of just 20 recipients of the award - which is ranked as the highest civilian gallantry award.

Chief of the Defence Staff Sir Jock Stirrup paid tribute to L/Cpl Croucher and said "he acted to save his comrades in the most certain knowledge that he would not himself survive".

Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Birrell said: "This was a magnificent act which absolutely typified the highest traditions of commando service".

L/Cpl, who escaped with just a nosebleed said he would "definitely" do it again.

It is understood the marine initially jumped on his front when he triggered a trip wire during a mission in Helmand province.

His citation described how Croucher and his team were investigating a compound south of Sangin, in the Helmand province.

It is understood that his bag was crammed with equipment, which cushioned the explosion on February 9 this year.

His three comrades suffered cuts and bruises while L/Cpl Croucher was thrown in the air.

"It was incredible, I escaped with only a nose bleed and a headache," he said.

L/Cpl Croucher said that he knew he would "definitely die" and said he believed he was going to die on many other occasions, "possibly at least 12" he said.

The citation added that his "day sack" was "ripped from his back and was completely destroyed" and "his body armour and helmet were pitted by grenade fragments".

His father, Richard, 57, has described his son as a very "lucky man".

L/Cpl Croucher, a reservist, was deployed to Afghanistan attached to Taunton-based 40 Commando Royal Marines last autumn.

He is expected to receive his honour from the Queen at Buckingham Palace later this year.

The award carries the same rank as the Victoria Cross which is the highest military decoration "in the face of the enemy".

(DS)

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