Royal Marine who jumped on grenade awarded George Cross

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

A Royal Marine who jumped on a grenade was awarded the George Cross — which is like the Victoria Cross, but is awarded for bravery while not in the face of the enemy:

“It was a case of either having four of us as fatalities or badly wounded — or one,” he said after the incident last February in Helmand province

L/Cpl Croucher, 24, was part of a company of 40 Commando sent to investigate a suspected Taliban bomb-making factory near the town of Sangin when he set off the trip-wire booby-trap that unleashed the deadly grenade.

“I thought, ‘I’ve set this bloody thing off and I’m going to do whatever it takes to protect the others,’” he said.

The Marine then shouted “Grenade. Take cover” to three men close to the bomb.

“I knew a grenade like this has a killing circumference of about five metres,” he said. “I’d been through this scenario in my mind and realised there was nowhere to take cover — there’s no point running off because you’re going to catch shrapnel.

“The lads behind me would have caught a lot too.”

The serviceman, from Birmingham, “fully expected” to lose a limb but was willing to make the sacrifice “if I could keep my torso and head intact”.

He dived onto the floor, rolled over and used his backpack — containing a 66mm rocket, a large lithium battery and medical kit — to cover the lethal shrapnel fragments from the coming blast.

When the bang went off he was thrown through the air and suffered just a nose bleed.

“It took 30 seconds before I realised I was definitely not dead,” he said.

The astonished Marines looked on as L/Cpl Croucher’s body armour and backpack shielded everyone from the blast which caused a few cuts and bruises.

L/Cpl Croucher was examined by a medic who recommended he should be evacuated but the Marine, who has completed three tours of Iraq, was determined to stay to fight the Taliban and within an hour had shot an insurgent approaching their position.

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