Private Beharry's VC

11th November 2005 at 00:00
"Maybe I was brave, I don't know. At the time I was just doing the job, I didn't have time for other thoughts." Private Johnson Gideon Beharry VC (born July 26, 1979 in Grenada), of the 1st Battalion, Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, was this year awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest decoration for valour in the British and Commonwealth armed forces, for saving members of his unit from two ambushes, in May and June 2004, at Al-Amarah, Iraq.

He twice drove his platoon commander's Warrior armoured vehicle through heavy fire while on patrol in the town. On the first occasion, with many of his crew wounded and his radio out of action, he had to open the hatch-cover to see where to go. He drove directly through a barricade and led five Warriors behind him to safety. A rocket-propelled grenade hit his vehicle as he pulled the heavy armoured hatch down with one hand, and drove with the other. The hatch was blown off and he drove 1,500 metres, with his head exposed and a bullet lodged beneath his helmet, taking his wounded comrades to hospital, still under sustained fire. Finally, he drove the vehicle to safety so the enemy could not use it.

On the second occasion, his vehicle was ambushed from rooftop positions, resulting in his serious head injury, incapacitating his commander and injuring several of the crew. Though the blood from his injury obscured his vision, Beharry reversed out of the area, saving the life of his crew. The vehicle crashed into a wall and Beharry lost consciousness. "I don't know if I could have lived with myself if I hadn't done it," he said.

* www.victoriacross.org.uk

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