Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher, the first reservist to receive either a Victoria Cross or a George Cross since operations began in Iraq and Afghanistan received his George Cross from Her Majesty The Queen today, Thursday 30 October 2008.
Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher with the rucksack that absorbed most of the explosion when he dived on a live grenade to save his comrades in Afghanistan
LCpl Croucher was part of the Commando Reconnaissance Force tasked on 9 February 2008 to conduct reconnaissance of a compound in which it was suspected that Taliban fighters manufactured Improvised Explosive Devices.
LCpl Croucher was at the head of the team as they moved silently through the darkened compound when he felt a wire go tight against his legs. This was a trip-wire connected to a grenade booby-trap, positioned to kill or maim intruders in the compound. He heard the fly-off lever eject and the grenade, now armed, fell onto the ground immediately beside him.
He quickly acted on instinct and threw himself beside the grenade, pinning it between his day-sack and the ground to absorb the explosion. Amazingly, he survived virtually unscathed when his body armour and the rucksack on his back absorbed most of the explosion.
"It was a great honour to receive my award from The Queen today. I feel very proud to be part of the Navy's Royal Marines and it was very special to be awarded the George Cross." said Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher.
"The award of the George Cross is a fantastic achievement for Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher who demonstrated quite exceptional courage and selflessness to protect his comrades. The 40 Commando deployment was a challenging and difficult operation which brought out the very best in all the men and women within the battle group; nowhere was this more apparent than in the actions of Matthew Croucher who accepted great personal risk to save his fellow marines. This was a magnificent act which absolutely typified the highest traditions of commando service." Quote: Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Birrell