17 Mar 2013

Posthumous VC for Briton killed in Afghanistan

6:09 am on 17 March 2013

A British soldier who died in southern Afghanistan last year as he protected his colleagues from a grenade blast is to be awarded the Victoria Cross.

The UK's top gallantry medal will go to Lance Corporal James Ashworth, 23, of Kettering, Northamptonshire, who was serving with 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards.

The VC has been awarded 10 times to UK soldiers since World War II and only once before for bravery in Afghanistan.

Lance Corporal Ashworth was killed while on a reconnaissance patrol to disrupt insurgent activity in the Nahr-e-Saraj district in June 2012.

Speaking at the time the death was announced Captain Mike Dobbin, commander of Reconnaissance Platoon, Nijmegen Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, paid tribute to the soldier's actions.

"He was killed while fighting his way through compounds; leading his fire team from the front, whilst trying to protect his men and he showed extraordinary courage to close on a determined enemy," he said.

"His professionalism under pressure and ability to remain calm in what was a chaotic situation is testament to his character."

The only other British soldier to be awarded the VC for bravery in Afghanistan was Corporal Bryan Budd, 29, of 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment, who was killed when he single-handedly stormed a Taliban position in Sangin in August 2006.

The last living person to receive the VC was Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry, of the 1st Battalion the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, after he twice saved the lives of colleagues while under enemy fire in Iraq in 2004.