VC hero L/Cpl James Ashworth 'supremely courageous'

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionL/Cpl James Ashworth is to be posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross

The actions of a soldier posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) have been described as "supremely courageous and inspiring".

L/Corp James Ashworth, 23, from Corby, Northamptonshire, died under enemy fire as he tried to eliminate an insurgent position in Afghanistan, last June.

His family will receive the UK's highest gallantry award on his behalf.

The Grenadier Guard was chasing a sniper protected by covering fire when he was shot in Helmand.

A report on his actions said a platoon of Grenadier Guards had broken up a sharpshooter team and L/Corp Ashworth was alone in pursuing the one remaining member, and died as he was about to throw a grenade.

'Bullets flew'

"With just enough cover to conceal his prostrate form, L/Corp Ashworth inched forward on his belly," the report said.

"Bullets flew over his head as the enemy continued to engage the rest of his team.

"When he was within five metres of the insurgent's position L/Corp Ashworth deliberately crawled out from behind the wall, exposing himself to fire to get a better angle for his throw.

"Rounds were hitting the floor just centimetres around him. He was preparing to throw the grenade when he was tragically hit by enemy fire."

His VC citation was read out at the Grenadier Guards barracks in Aldershot, Hampshire.

It said: "His total disregard for his own safety in ensuring that the last grenade was posted accurately was the gallant last action of a soldier who had willingly placed himself in the line of fire on numerous occasions earlier in the attack.

"This supremely courageous and inspiring action deserves the highest recognition."

L/Corp Ashworth's mother Kerry, father Duane and brother Coran, also a serving soldier, were present to hear the citation.

Mrs Ashworth, 44, said that, although the award had made her "ecstatically happy", the announcement had brought back the pain of his death too.

'Town so proud'

"I miss his smile. He's got the best smile anyone could ever have. He always smiles.. and his hugs. I just love him so much," she said.

"[This award] doesn't make it easier but it does make it feel that it wasn't for nothing, he was making a difference out there and James believed in his job.

"We just miss him so much, but this award is not just for James it's for everybody who fights and who has been injured and the whole town is so proud of him."

The Victoria Cross was created in 29 January 1856 and is hand-made from bronze cannon captured from the Russians at the siege of Sevastopol in 1854-55 during the Crimean War.

The inscription 'For Valour' was personally chosen by Queen Victoria.

To date, only 1,360 VC's have been awarded. L/Corp Ashworth's is the 1,361st and is the first VC to be awarded to a British soldier since Corporal Bryan Budd was posthumously honoured in 2006.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites