Rewarded for acts of sheer bravery

Soldiers awaiting medal ceremony
Troops gathered at Admiralty House to receive their honours. Photo: ITV News

Attending a medals ceremony is a humbling experience. I sat and listened for nearly an hour while a senior military man read out the citations for men and women being honoured for their service in Afghanistan and Libya- and in one case, for defusing two Second World War bombs in Plymouth. The honours ranged from the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross and Military Cross to Mentioned in Despatches – and have mostly gone to young men and women who look nothing out of the ordinary.

The citations though tell the story. For instance, Cpl Simon Wright-Hider from Bristol, serving with the Royal Marines in Afghanistan, “showed a complete disregard for his own safety” in leading an attack on an insurgent position – he is awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross. Serjeant Deacon Cutterham from Kingswood was “utterly courageous” in running towards a grenade when his patrol was attacked on his first operation in command – he too receives the CGC.

Quick-thinking Serjeant Deacon Cutterham from Bristol had just five seconds to plunge his arm into murky ditchwater, retrieve the high-explosive device and throw it to safety.

He and his patrol were wading through an irrigation ditch knee-deep in water in the Nahr-e-Saraj district of Helmand in Afghanistan on May 24 last year when the grenade landed in front of him.

Serjeant Deacon Cutterham
Serjeant Deacon Cutterham of The Rifles who is to receive the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross Credit: PA

I heard the 'ching' of the fly-off lever coming off it. It all happened so fast but so slowly.I just went into autopilot. I shouted 'Get down, grenade', ran forward, grabbed it first time and just let go of it.I can't believe I didn't lose my fingers because as soon as I let go of it, it exploded. If I had missed it, it would have been game over.

– Sjt Deacon Cutterham, The Rifles

Flt-Lt Jonathan Singh, also from Bristol, follows his grandfather in receiving the DFC for extracting his helicopter under heavy fire. Sgt Robert Driscoll, from Taunton, serving with the Royal Marines, showed “inspirational leadership” saved the lives of comrades under fire, for which he is mentioned in despatches.

Away from the heat of battle, but no less dangerous, Lt Cdr Richard Talbot receives the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery for safely removing two Second World War bombs unearthed during building work in Plymouth city centre.

A full list of the Operational Honours and Awards for March 23 can be viewed on the Ministry of Defence website.

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