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Heroes recognised in honours list

A Gurkha who was shot in the helmet by an Afghan insurgent, avoided being blown up by a grenade, then took the insurgent on in hand-to-hand combat is among more than 100 members of the armed forces recognised in the latest round of military honours.

Some 117 people from all three services are included in the latest Operational Honours list, published in the London Gazette.

They include Acting Lance Corporal Tuljung Gurung, from The Royal Gurkha Rifles, who is awarded the Military Cross for his gallantry and courage when he took on an insurgent who mounted an attack on the patrol base where he was on guard.

ALCpl Gurung, then a Rifleman, was on duty when the Afghan, along with another insurgent, mounted the attack on the patrol base near Lashkar Gah in the early hours of the morning in March.

When they were challenged, they opened fire, and ALCpl Gurung was hit by a bullet on his helmet, knocking him to the ground.

Still dazed from the blast, he then saw a grenade bounce off the ceiling of the guard tower he was in and picked it up and threw it out just before it detonated, knocking the 28-year-old over again.

ALCpl Gurung, from Nepal, said: " I realised that if I ran away it would explode. I realised that I needed to do something, so I rolled it away.

" I fell down on the floor, there was dust everywhere, it was like a storm."

But as he got to his feet after the explosion, he saw one of the attackers climbing into the tower and drew his kukri - the traditional Nepalese knife used by Gurkhas - to take him on in hand-to- hand combat.

"He was quite a bit bigger than me and was wearing quite thick clothes," he said. " I just hit him in the hand, body, I just started to hit him.

" He tried to push me inside. During the fight I was screaming so my next colleague could hear me and send somebody."

During the fight, the men fell three metres from the tower, landing on the ground outside the base, and ALCpl Gurung continued to fight with his kukri, forcing the man to turn and flee.

" I just thought, ' I don't want to die. If I am alive I can save my colleagues'," he said today.

" I thought, 'Before he does something I have to do something'. I was like a madman."

ALCpl Gurung, who was left with a sore neck and swelling to his back, said he never expected to receive the honour.

" I didn't expect it," he said. "When my commanding officer called me into his office and congratulated me I was surprised and very happy."

Along with ALCpl Gurung, servicemen and women recognised in today's honours include Corporal Josh Griffiths, from The Mercian Regiment, who receives the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross after he took on insurgents as they tore through the wall of his ISAF base , and insisted on fighting on despite later discovering he had a broken back.

Private Ryan Houston, from the Royal Regiment of Scotland, is Mentioned in Despatches for his actions when a rogue Afghan soldier turned on coalition troops during a Remembrance Day football match in Helmand Province; while Rifleman Ben Taylor, an army reserve with the Mercian Regiment, is awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal.

The 21-year-old was on his first tour of Afghanistan when he was catapulted out of the top hatch of a Mastiff armoured vehicle which landed in a canal, and was forced to swim back to it and help his comrades, who were trapped underwater.

Many of the servicemen and women receive honours for their work in Afghanistan.

Announcing the awards, Commander of land forces Lieutenant General Sir Adrian Bradshaw applauded the recipients for their remarkable bravery and courage.

He said: "I am humbled by the achievements of our servicemen and women.

"Collectively, they have proved with good people you can achieve anything."

Brigadier Bob Bruce, commander of Operation Herrick 17, the operation in Afghanistan from September last year to April this year, said the work in the war zone was focused on handing over military leadership to Afghan forces.

"I am honoured to be able to pay tribute to the men and women who made that happen. Their bravery and professionalism are astonishing.

"They can and do fight like lions but they can also change their focus in an instant and show great judgment, restraint and compassion.

"From the most junior to the most experienced, they thoroughly understood the nuances of the job they were doing. That job was dangerous but they were all superb."

The honours also recognise a soldier who single-handedly saved Afghan and Danish soldiers from an improvised explosive device (IED) trap.

Warrant Officer Andreas Peat, a high threat explosive ordnance disposal operator, receives the George Medal for his role when he was attached to a task force of a Danish Special Forces unit with Afghan partners.

The 39-year-old, from Edinburgh, was on an operation to search a suspected homemade explosive factory when one of the Danish soldiers triggered a device on a compound roof.

WO Peat cleared a route to the man while urging the other Afghan and Danish soldiers to stay still to avoid triggering other bombs.

When he reached him he realised there was another wire underneath him - tracing it to another IED hidden under a nearby stone, he disarmed it and cleared a safe route.

Alongside him, Flight Lieutenant Christopher Gent, 31, from Swanage, Dorset, receives a Queen's Commendation for Bravery in the Air for skilful piloting of a Chinook helicopter in "abysmal weather", when visibility was just 30m, to rescue an injured Afghan soldier.

As the honours were announced at the Tower of London today, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: "While the role of our forces in Afghanistan is changing with the Afghan forces assuming the lead for security operations across the country, the courage and bravery of British Forces deployed remains constant and undiminished.

"Those honoured today have displayed exceptional dedication and commitment to their country, their comrades and the mission.

"As we enter the final phases of combat operations in Afghanistan, British Forces deserve our recognition and gratitude for their role in helping to keep us safe in the UK."


From Belfast Telegraph