Troop ignored peril and saved lives
A teenage soldier who carried out a fingertip search for Taliban bombs to rescue injured comrades from a heavily mined alley has been honoured for his bravery.
Private Daniel Hellings, 19, uncovered four improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by hand after refusing an order from his commander to leave the alley because it was too dangerous.
He was on patrol with Afghan soldiers in Helmand, southern Afghanistan, on September 7 last year when a bomb went off in the 10ft-wide alleyway in a village near their base. Two troops were injured in the initial blast, one blinded and the second with severe leg wounds, and a third was wounded when he triggered another bomb just yards from Pte Hellings.
Pte Hellings was ordered to withdraw from the alley by his commander but the young soldier realised there was no time to find an alternative route to recover the casualties and volunteered to return to the task.
With his metal detector rendered all but useless because so much metallic debris lay on the ground, he carried out an hour-long fingertip search for further IEDs. One hidden bomb he found had wires stretching the width of the alley, which would normally have prevented him going any further. But Pte Hellings knew that his injured comrades would almost certainly die if he waited for a bomb disposal team.
He disregarded the danger to himself and continued clearing the ground around the IEDs so he could reach the three casualties, giving them life-saving first aid and helping to evacuate them.
Pte Hellings, from Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, of the Mercian Regiment, was awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal. His citation said he "demonstrated a level of courage and ability far beyond that which could be expected of his age, rank and experience".
Other British troops receiving operational honours were Lance Corporal Christopher Burns who risked his life to carry an injured Afghan soldier to safety while under fire on June 19 last year. L/Cpl Burns, from Hightae near Lockerbie, of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, receives a Mention in Despatches for his "display of exceptional courage".
Another Mention in Despatches goes to RAF Flight Lieutenant Adam Booth who spent two months on the ground in some of the most dangerous areas of Helmand directing helicopter operations.
A total of 136 servicemen and women, most of whom served with 4 Mechanised Brigade in Afghanistan between April and October last year, were named in the latest military honours list. They will be presented with their awards at a later date.