Soldiers honoured at Sandhurst

Soldiers from across the country, including the North East, are being honoured at today's Operational Honours and awards at Sandhurst.

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Northumberland soldier demonstrated "unstinting bravery"

A bomb disposal officer from Northumberland has been honoured at today's Operational Honours and Awards at Sandhurst, where he was awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal for his work out in Afghanistan.

Sergeant David Acarnley, from Riding Mill, is one of three people to receive the Queen's Gallantry Medal, which is awarded to people for acts of exemplary bravery not in the presence of the enemy.

The citation in full reads as follows:

"Working in the face of extreme danger from IEDs, exceptional heat and the stress of high operational tempo, Acarnley has been tested both tactically and technically.

"He has time and time again demonstrated unstinting bravery in the face of multiple, complex and imminent explosive threats."

Northumberland soldier honoured for bravery

A soldier from Northumberland who risked his life to defuse a series of bombs in Afghanistan has been awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal.

Sergeant David Acarnley, a bomb disposal officer with The Royal Logistic Corps, was called to help a Danish armoured vehicle last year after it hit an IED.

The crew were trapped inside after a second bomb was found at its back door.

A third IED was also triggered, injuring a soldier, when Sergeant Acarnley was working to free the crew.

The 31-year-old cleared a route so medics could give the man life-saving aid, before returning to rescue the crew.

Sergeant Acarnley had also previously hauled 150kgs worth of explosives out of harm's way which was under the main route linking all of Afghanistan.

The only way he could get to the explosives was to remove his protective gear and crawl into the culvert.

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Members of the armed forces awarded military honours

More than 100 members of the armed forces are to be awarded military honours.

A soldier who single-handedly battled insurgents in Afghanistan, two members of the RAF who defended Camp Bastion from an attack, and a female Army medic are among those recognised.

Recipients of the Military Cross
Recipients of the Military Cross Credit: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire

Praising the recipients of the honours, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: "In a changing world the bravery and commitment to duty of our servicemen and women remains unswerving.

"Whether fighting for our security on operations abroad or rescuing mountaineers and sailors within the British Isles, they deserve our gratitude and respect.

"I hope that the awards announced today go some way to underlining how much this country values the efforts and sacrifices of our Armed Forces."

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Middlesbrough soldier: River rescue was "instinctive"

A soldier from Middlesbrough, who is being honoured for his bravery at today's Operational Honours and awards at Sandhurst, has described his actions as "instinctive".

Private Lewis Murphy, of the Yorkshire Regiment, took off his own body armour while under attack to carry an injured colleague across a deep river to safety in Afghanistan while on tour last year.

"At first, I didn't know how serious it was but when you realise there are casualties everything changes. I was in the swamp and couldn't see the enemy. My first reaction was to get my sight up to look for them.

"It was instinctive. I didn't think about the danger of it, I just thought if I leave my equipment on I'll drown."

– Private Lewis Murphy

The 24-year-old has spoken about the difficulty in carrying his colleague, as well as the 100 kg of equipment he was still wearing, across the river.

"I remember being so angry with myself. I screamed out and thrashed the water in a rage, asking myself why I couldn't do it.

"After running to the helicopter with him in my arms for another 80 metres, I was totally shattered. I've never felt so drained in my life."

– Private Lewis Murphy

Soldier "displayed the highest levels of leadership and bravery" in river rescue

A Middlesbrough soldier who rescued an injured colleague in Afghanistan by taking off his own body armour and carrying him across a deep river to safety ""displayed the highest levels of leadership and bravery", according to his citation in the Queen's honours.

Private Lewis Murphy, of the Yorkshire Regiment, has been awarded the Queen's Commendation for Bravery, given for bravery entailing risk to life.

The citation in full reads as follows:

"Murphy displayed the highest levels of leadership and bravery under immense danger against a heavily armed, tenacious and determined enemy."

Middlesbrough soldier honoured for river rescue

A soldier from Middlesbrough who took off his helmet and body armour to carry an injured colleague on his back across a river to safety is recognised for his bravery in today's Operational Honours.

Private Lewis Murphy, of the Yorkshire Regiment, has been awarded the Queen's Commendation for Bravery, given for bravery entailing risk to life.

During his tour in Afghanistan last year, the 24-year-old was part of a team tasked with finding four insurgents who had abducted an Afghan police officer.

They followed them across the Helmand River into difficult terrain, only to come under fire from insurgents with machine guns.

Two soldiers were hit, one in the neck, while another had a lucky escape when a bullet hit his body armour.

The soldier who had been shot in the head was critically injured, but the nearest place he could be airlifted from was a sandbank 20 metres away across a deep river, running above chest height.

Realising that carrying a stretcher was not practical, Private Murphy took off his own body armour and helmet and put his colleague - who was still wearing more than 100kg of equipment - on his back and started to wade across the river.

He struggled halfway across, due to the sheer effort of crossing the deep water, and others rushed to help - with the team managing to get the casualty to the helicopter.