I can never read stuff like this without thinking of The RN Skipper who was interviewed during or post Falklands. He said he wished that all the people who moaned about the youth of today could have seen his GPMG gunners during the raids in San Carlos waters. They were typically 17 1/2 years as I recall.
In the operational honours list published on 18 March 2005, Private Johnson Beharry became the first man to be awarded the Victoria Cross in 23 years and one of only 12 to have been awarded the country's highest award for gallantry in the past 60 years.
Private Beharry was deployed in Southern Iraq last year. He was the lead vehicle in a convoy which was ambushed he led his men to safety despite being repeatedly struck by small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. He ensured colleagues were led to safety and manoeuvred his Warrior Armoured Fighting vehicle into cover before collapsing from mental and physical exhaustion.
Only 1355 have been awarded since the Victoria Cross's creation in 1856.
Sergeant Terry Thomson, aged 28 from Littlehampton, who has been awarded Conspicuous Gallantry Cross, said immediately after hearing the news:
"It was a shock to hear the news. A massive shock."
In the incident which resulted in the award Terry had been ordered to take his Warrior Armoured Fighting Vehicle carrying soldiers for dismounting to locate and extract a patrol.
Believing the lost patrol to be in the heavily protected Ba'ath Party Headquarters Terry stormed through the gates and was engaged by enemy militia. Despite this he manoeuvred his Warrior around the complex searching for the patrol. Terry did this knowing he was outnumbered and the enemy had better positions.
"We took a real malleting inside there," he recalled. "There was quite a lot flying around. But as for the award there are a lot of other people who should be remembered."
Terry is a former pupil of Littlehampton, West Sussex. He is married to Emma and the couple have a daughter Kleo aged 2.
Private Troy Samuels, aged 27 from Jamaica, has been awarded the Military Cross. Private Samuels was in the lead vehicle on a convoy route in a Warrior Armoured Fighting Vehicle when they were hit with missiles, two rocket propelled grenades and small arms fire.
Despite receiving a number of injuries to his head and body Troy grabbed a rifle to engage the enemy from the hatch of his Warrior Armoured Fighting Vehicle.
"At first I believed that our Platoon Commander was dead and told the boys to stop calling out 'boss, boss'. It was very hectic in there," he recalled.
When Troy realised that his platoon commander was badly injured and not dead from the attack he showed total disregard for his own safety by helping to carry the officer into the back of another vehicle.
He then assisted with the evacuation of the other soldiers, all of whom were injured, before getting back into the warrior. Once he returned from hospital he insisted on being returned to front-line duty serving as an example to his colleagues.
This incident was one of those which led to his colleague Private Johnston Beharry receiving the Victoria Cross.
Troy, who has been in the Army for five years, is a former pupil of Mantigo Bay School.
Corporal Brian Wood, aged 24 from Bordon, Hampshire, learned at the same gathering that not only had he been promoted from Lance Corporal to Corporal but heâd been awarded the Military Cross. He said immediately after:
"I didn't know about it. It's a massive, massive day."
In one of the incidents which led to the award Brian's Warrior Armoured Fighting Vehicle was hit by a number of rocket propelled grenades and two missiles. Everyone was injured by the impacts which also set the vehicle ablaze.
He used the fire extinguisher to put out the fire in the rear saving the gunner from worse injury and possibly even death.
As the heat melted their respirators Brian put damp clothes round the casualties' faces to prevent their asphyxiation from the acrid smoke before tending to himself.
On another occasion he took charge of his dismounted troops as they prepared to assault dug-in enemy troops who had ambushed a friendly patrol. The positions were heavily defended armed with rocket-propelled grenades, assault rifles and heavy machine guns. He led the initial assault killing and capturing a number of enemy. Fixed-bayonets and automatic weapons were used.
He supported two further assaults and his level-headed leadership and courageous action inspired his men as he deployed text-book infantry tactics against a larger number of better equipped enemy.
"My natural instinct was to protect my men on the ground. And it must have worked as none of them was killed," he said.
Brian, who has been in the Army for six years, is a former pupil of Mill Chase School. He is married to Lucy who also comes from Bordon. His parents, Gavin and Margaret, now live in Edinburgh. His father served with the Royal Highland Fusiliers for 21 years.
Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, The Princess of Walesâs Royal Regiment received an impressive cluster of medals for bravery in Iraq [Picture: SSgt Rick Dawson, RLC]
Sergeant David 'Pete' Perfect, aged 33 from Southampton, said immediately after hearing heâd been awarded the Military Cross:
"It was a total shock. I don't think I really stood out. But it is good for the battalion. We must remember the guys who did not make it back and their families."
The incident which led to the award occurred when his Warrior Armoured fighting vehicle was ambushed and the weapons system failed. Sergeant Perfect engaged the enemy from the turret with his own rifle despite heavy incoming fire.
Then when the vehicle caught fire he climbed out on to the top turret hatches despite being heavily under fire to add his weight to open those hatches to give much-needed air to those soldiers being choked by fumes.
Later Sergeant Perfect fought his way through to assist a patrol providing fire from the turret. Having collected a casualty and a prisoner he engaged the enemy for over an hour. When he realised his Warrior had lost its forward gears he reversed the vehicle back 18 kilometres to the coalition force base with prisoner and casualty.
Sergeant Perfect is married to Ellen and his mother Louise lives at West Moor, in Dorset.
Company Sergeant Major David Falconer, aged 38 from Worthing, has also been awarded the Military Cross for his bravery in Iraq. Immediately after hearing the news he said:
"The medal is fantastic. It's good to have. It's a good incentive to do the job right, but really it's a team effort."
David, was joined by his partner Julie Gallagher for the announcements made just as his unit the 1st Battalion, The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, was preparing for Easter leave.
In the main action which led to the award David led a bayonet charge on a number of dug-in enemy positions facing heavy small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades.
Following the battle he organized the evacuation of casualties, prisoners and enemy dead. Even then he was still under fire and his steadfast composure and absolute courage gave great confidence to his mentally and physically exhausted troops.
Throughout the seven-month tour he evacuated over 20 casualties from battle, often at great personal risk, always ensuring that they reached medical aid as soon as possible.
David has been in the Army for 19 years.
1st Battalion, The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Maer, who himself received a Distinguished Service Order, said when he announced the awards:
"The Battalion performed quite heroically in the most difficult of circumstances and conditions."
Corporal Mark Byles, aged 35 from Portsmouth, of 2nd Battalion The Princess of Walesâs Royal Regiment, has been awarded the the Military Cross for his bravery in Iraq when his unit came under intense enemy fire in May 2004.
According to his citation, Mark "showed immense professionalism under pressure. He showed bravery in the face of the enemy and strong leadership qualities in leading a dangerous assault against a larger enemy position."
The enemy assault took place in Al Amarah province, southern Iraq. Mark and his comrades deployed in response to an attack on fellow British troops involving mortars, rocket propelled grenades and small arms.
Travelling along Route 6, Markâs and other Warrior Armoured Fighting Vehicles were hit by enemy fire. Jumping from his vehicle, Mark rapidly assessed the situation, formed a plan to attack the enemy positions and gave orders to his team of young soldiers. Mark said:
"The enemy outnumbered us about 15 to 5, but I decided the best way to deal with them was a full frontal, infantry attack across open ground. We gave each other covering fire as we moved to the enemy line.
"Reaching there, I had to make a split second decision as to who posed a threat to our lives and who we had to deal with first. We then took prisoners and disarmed their weapons. We were then fired on from another trench, which we dealt with, and then a third. In all we captured three trenches, captured or killed about 15 enemy and seized a large number of weapons. Some of my soldiers were just 18 and I felt it my duty to give leadership and be the first into the enemy trench.
"We didnât know what to expect when we got there, but my team performed magnificently. I have trained for combat for years and the training worked. I was absolutely astonished when I got the news"
Mark, who joined the Army in 1988 after attending Crookham Comprehensive School, is married to Becky. They have three children, Christopher (11), Lewis (6) and Jasmine (3). Markâs brother, Chris, is a Colour Sergeant Major in the Royal Marines.
Mark has served in various parts of the world during his Army career.
Corporal Mark Byles, 2nd Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, awarded the Military Cross in the Operational Honours announced on 18 March 2005 [Picture: Stuart Bingham]
The full list of Honours and Awards for The Princess of Walesâs Royal Regiment is:
The Victoria Cross
Private Johnson Gideon BEHARRY The Princess of Walesâs Royal Regiment
Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)
Warrant Officer Class 2 Dale Edward NORMAN The Princess of Walesâs Royal Regiment
Warrant Officer Class 2 Victor Charles POTTER The Princess of Walesâs Royal Regiment
Distinguished Service Order (DSO)
Major James Chenevix COOTE The Princess of Walesâs Royal Regiment
Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Philip MAER MBE The Princess of Walesâs Royal Regiment
Conspicuous Gallantry Cross (CGC)
Sergeant Christopher Mark BROOME The Princess of Walesâs Royal Regiment
Corporal Terence Alan THOMSON The Princess of Walesâs Royal Regiment
The Military Cross (MC)
Corporal Mark Richard BYLES The Princess of Walesâs Royal Regiment
Warrant Officer Class 2 David Gordon FALCONER The Princess of Walesâs Royal Regiment
Major Justin Burritt FEATHERSTONE The Princess of Walesâs Royal Regiment
Sergeant David Anthony Harrington PERFECT The Princess of Walesâs Royal Regiment
Corporal Sean Vitty Ernest ROBSON The Princess of Walesâs Royal Regiment
Private Troy OâNeil SAMUELS The Princess of Walesâs Royal Regiment
Lance Corporal Brian WOOD The Princess of Walesâs Royal Regiment
Mention in Despatches (MiD)
Private Gary COOPER The Princess of Walesâs Royal Regiment
Private Daniel Shane CRUCEFIX The Princess of Walesâs Royal Regiment
Private Thomas James FERGUSON The Princess of Walesâs Royal Regiment
Corporal Lee Stephen GIDALLA The Princess of Walesâs Royal Regiment
Corporal Simon John GOWER The Princess of Walesâs Royal Regiment
Private Joseph Dominic HARTNELL The Princess of Walesâs Royal Regiment
Captain Robin HICKS The Princess of Walesâs Royal Regiment
Sergeant Benjamin Llewellyn KELLY The Princess of Walesâs Royal Regiment
Sergeant Daniel MILLS The Princess of Walesâs Royal Regiment
Lance Corporal Josese Tunidau NATUMERU The Princess of Walesâs Royal Regiment
Lieutenant William James PASSMORE The Princess of Walesâs Royal Regiment
Sergeant Andre Paul Joseph PEPPER The Princess of Walesâs Royal Regiment
Lieutenant Benjamin Udo PLENGE The Princess of Walesâs Royal Regiment
Lieutenant Adam Philip STYLER The Princess of Walesâs Royal Regiment
Major Simon Christopher THOMSETT The Princess of Walesâs Royal Regiment
The Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service (QCVS)
Major Richard Toby WALCH The Princess of Walesâs Royal Regiment