A British soldier who dived on an exploding grenade to save three comrades has been awarded the George Cross. Since its inception in 1940 by King George VI, the GC has been awarded just 158 times.

George Cross for hero who fell on bomb

Drama ... graphic shows how Matt Croucher leaped on exploding grenade to save comrades

Defence Editor
Published: Today
23rd July 2008

A COMMANDO is being awarded the George Cross for diving on an exploding grenade to save three comrades.

Lance Corporal Matt Croucher, 24, triggered a trip wire to a booby trap in Afghanistan.

Attack ... marine shoots Taliban gunman

On hearing the grenade pin fly out, the Royal Marine reservist flung himself backwards on to the device so his body armour took the full force.

Amazingly he survived with a nose bleed and a few cuts. His marine pals were unscathed.

Hero ... Matt Croucher on
duty in Helmand

Matt was recommended by his commander for a Victoria Cross. Because his heroics happened away from the face of the enemy it was decided to give him the GC for extreme courage committed out of combat.

Speaking three months ago of his deeds, modest Matt insisted: “I thought, ‘I’ve set this bloody thing off and I’m going to do whatever it takes to protect the others’. It was a case of either having four of us as fatalities, or badly wounded, or one.”

The honour will be officially announced by the Royal Navy today. Since its inception by the Queen’s father, King George VI, in 1940, the GC has been awarded directly just 158 times.

It has only been given three times in the last decade — mostly posthumously.

Matt, from Birmingham, was on a night mission to uncover a Taliban bomb factory in Helmand in February.

George Cross ... top honour

He said: “I saw the grenade fall by my feet. I was pretty threaders (commando slang for very disappointed) and I shouted, ‘Grenade, take cover.’

“The bang was the loudest I’ve ever heard. I was flung into the air. Someone said, ‘You were f****** lucky.’ They were like, ‘What are you doing you nutter.’”

The four men returned safely to base with 40 Commando. Matt added: “Our captain looked at me with a smile in his eyes and said, ‘That was a bit crazy, Croucher.’” Matt will receive the legendary silver cross from the Queen.