A SOLDIER from Wirral has been awarded a medal for gallantry.
Corporal Josh Griffiths, from Eastham, wore no protective gear and ignored serious injuries to defeat an insurgent raid on base.
As soldiers at Patrol Base Folad chatted over their evening meal in March, half a tonne of explosives tore through the outer wall, allowing insurgents to pour into the patrol base.
Among those in the cookhouse – destroyed by the blast – was Corporal Griffiths. He was one of 15 casualties – of which one later died – who needed treatment.
Instead brave Josh, of 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment’s C Company (Cheshire), fought back.
The 24-year-old dragged himself free from the collapsed cookhouse as the inside of the base came under machine gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades, two of which obliterated the operations room.
Josh said: “My back felt a bit weird and I later found out I had fractured the fourth vertebrae.
“My first instinct was to see who was hurt and help.
“One of the lads was shouting that another was badly injured.
“We had to crawl through the debris in the dark to get him out.”
Once outside the collapsed cookhouse, Josh was confronted with a group of insurgents less than 50 metres from him and the other casualties inside the patrol base.
Still disorientated, dressed in combat shirt and fatigues without protective equipment, Josh was armed with only a light machine gun which he managed to grab. He faced the enemy fighters as they hurled grenades and fired automatic weapons.
Josh, a former South Wirral High School pupil, added: “The adrenalin was racing. As soon as I was out in the open air, bullets where whizzing past my head, missing me by millimetres.
“They were also firing rocket propelled grenades. All I could think was ‘I have to stop them or they’ll kill me and my mates.”
For his extraordinary bravery, Josh has been awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross, the second highest level of honour for acts during active operations against the enemy.
He said: “I was devastated we had lost a soldier.
“It is an amazing honour to receive the award and I am very proud, but I’d much rather it hadn’t happened and he was still with us.”