The Ministry of Defence is today expected to confirm a Northamptonshire soldier will be awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.
Lance Corporal James Ashworth from Corby was 23 when he was killed on patrol with the 1st Battalion The Grenadier Guards in Helmand Province, Afganistan, last June. He was protecting his comrades from a grenade blast when he died.
A Midlands MP and former army colonel has paid tribute to a soldier from Northamptonshire who is to receive the Victoria Cross for his "extraordinary courage" in Afghanistan.
Lance Corporal James Ashworth, 23, from Kettering, died last June while protecting his comrades during a battle with the Taliban. He served with the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards.
Patrick Mercer, the Conservative MP for Newark in Nottinghamshire, said it was an extremely rare honour, with only 10 Victoria Cross' awarded since the Second World War.
"It's a sad thing but Victoria Crosses these days are largely posthumous," he said, "which gives you an idea of the intensity of fighting which actually leads to the award and a declaration like this."
It is awarded for "most conspicuous bravery, or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy".
The medal has been awarded 1,356 times, the most recent of which was a posthumous award to Corporal Bryan Budd, of the 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, for acts of "inspirational leadership and the greatest valour" in southern Afghanistan in 2006.
The George Cross, which stands equal to the Victoria Cross as an award, recognises acts of gallantry by members of the Armed Forces or civilians in situations for which the Victoria Cross is not appropriate
L/Cpl Ashworth's is just the fifth to have been awarded since the Falklands conflict, and all but one have been posthumous.
Only 13 Victoria Cross medals have been awarded since the Second World War, nine to members of the British Army and four to the Australian Army.
A soldier from Northamptonshire who died as he protected the lives of his comrades in Afghanistan is to be awarded the Victoria Cross.
Lance Corporal James Ashworth, 23, will receive the medal in recognition of his "extraordinary courage" while serving with the 1st Battalion The Grenadier Guards.
The Victoria Cross, the country's highest award for gallantry, has been awarded just 10 times to UK soldiers since the Second World War.
The posthumous award to L/Cpl Ashworth is just the second from the 12-year conflict in Afghanistan.
L/Cpl Ashworth, from Kettering, Northamptonshire, was killed in the Nahr-e-Siraj district on June 13 when his reconnaissance platoon became involved in a battle with the Taliban inside enemy-held compounds.