Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text WILTS TIMES to 80360 or email us
3 Yorks soldier honoured with bravery award
Operational honours announced today have recognised three soldiers from Warminster-based battalion 3 Yorks, including Private Lewis Murphy, who was awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery (QCB).
Lieutenant Colonel Zac Stenning was awarded an OBE for his actions during Operation Herrick, while Major Edward Colver received an MBE for his service between April and September 2012.
Pte Murphy was awarded the QCB after removing his helmet and body armour while under attack so he could carry a stricken comrade to safety.
The 24-year-old was part of a team tasked with finding four insurgents who had abducted an Afghan Police Officer, following them across the Helmand River into a neighbouring Company’s area through horrendous terrain.
However, the insurgents opened fire with machine guns from less than 10 metres and a withering hail of bullets struck two fellow soldiers, one suffering a serious gunshot wound to the neck.
Fighting for their lives and being assailed by machine gun fire and grenades from various angles, the Platoon Commander stumbled upon an insurgent just a few metres away and was hit in the leg by enemy fire. Although he was able to carry on, this increased the pressure on the team.
Pte Murphy said: “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.”
As the casualty extraction began it was apparent the soldier who had been shot in the head was critically injured. A medical helicopter was called and a clear landing site was identified on a sandbank some 20 metres away.
Between the soldiers and the helicopter was a deep river running above chest height. Realising that carrying a stretcher across the river would not be practical, Pte Murphy made an instant and life-threatening decision.
Removing his own protective equipment, he put the casualty on his back and began to wade and swim across the 20 metres of thick mud and water.
He said: “It was instinctive. I didn’t think about the danger of it, I just thought if I leave my equipment on I’ll drown.”
The physical exertion of carrying his comrade, who still had equipment on totalling well over 100kgs was such that Lewis began to falter halfway across.
“I remember being so angry with myself,” he said. “I screamed out and thrashed the water in a rage, asking myself why I couldn’t do it.”
Inspired by his selfless act of humanity, others rushed to assist and the team managed to get the casualty to the helicopter.
“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.”
His citation states: “Murphy displayed the highest levels of leadership and bravery under immense danger against a heavily armed, tenacious and determined enemy.”
The announcement was made today with the release of the latest operational honours and awards list which includes 119 personnel.