Former British soldier 'lucky to be alive' after Russian mortar attack in Ukraine

Josh Griffiths said he was kept alive by the voice of one of his colleagues.

A former British soldier has told ITV News how he felt his 'body giving up' while being rushed to hospital in eastern Ukraine after being targeted in a Russian mortar attack.

Josh Griffiths, 30, was on a reconnaissance patrol with three other fighters from the International Legion last Monday when he was spotted by silent Russian drones.

Seconds after the sighting, four separate mortar attacks reigned down on him and his team.

"The first mortar exploded metres in front of me and sent me flying sideways." The attacks came within seconds of each other.

"After the first artillery dropped, I tried [to] get myself back up to move to some cover. I realised then that my leg was busted.

"I literally fell straight back to the ground. I remember shouting 'I'm hit', one of my colleagues tried getting to me just as a second mortar round landed, which then hit him as well."

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Josh scrambled to cover next to a concrete block where he applied a tourniquet to his leg which was bleeding heavily, while ‚Äčanother two mortar bombs landed metres away from him.

Once the attack was over, Ukrainian troops put Josh into the back of a car, put more tourniquets on the rest of his limbs, and drove him to a local field hospital.

"That's when it really hit home, I could feel my body giving up slightly at times. I remember a colleague looking over me. He was there throughout the whole thing.

"He just kept saying, look at me, look at me, look at me. I was staring at him as best I could. My focus kept going, my vision was going blurry. It was just every time I said his name, he would respond and just hearing his response was what kept giving me the drive to keep going.

"Hearing his voice, he literally kept me alive."

Speaking from a hospital bed in Ukraine, Josh explains: "I've got a fractured shin, really deep lacerations to my legs, damage to the flesh, muscle and tendons, potential nerve damage, deep shrapnel wounds in my shoulder and a broken collarbone."

Mr Griffiths joined the fight in Ukraine back in March after spending four years in the British military.

He is one of an estimated 20,000 fighters from around the world to have joined the war effort in Ukraine.

Josh spoke from a hospital bed in Ukraine.

Two British fighters, Scott Sibley and Jordan Gatley, have died in Ukraine after travelling there once war had broken out.

Two other Britons, Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin, have been sentenced to death by a court in the 'Donetsk People's Republic', which accused them of being mercenaries.

"We all know the risks that we're taking coming out here, but it obviously does hit home that bit harder when it's people you've either met along the way or fellow British people out here.

"Seeing the terrible things that happen makes you want to, I'm not saying single-handedly, try and put an end to it even sooner."

Josh spent four years in the British armed forces and was trained as an armed combat engineer.

Driving tanks and mine clearance vehicles, clearing mines and booby traps were all areas of expertise he felt he could offer the Ukrainian forces, despite never going on a tour with the British Army.

Josh's leg was badly damaged.

"I think I was being dragged out here subconsciously quite a bit, I joined the British army to go on tour and never got around to it.

"I'd be lying if I said there's not been times when I've been sat here thinking I could die today.

"There's been times where I potentially should already have been dead, as cliche as it sounds, sometimes it's a kill or be killed situation."

Josh now faces six months of rehabilitation and further surgery.

"You see these other guys losing their lives, getting captured and you always think it's never going to be me. That never happens to me. You never believe it's going to happen to you, until it happens, and here I am."

Josh is now fundraising to be able to continue his recovery back in the UK, while not ruling out returning to Ukraine once he has fully recovered from his injuries.