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Bristol soldier Sjt Deacon Cutterham honoured for bravery

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image captionSjt Deacon Cutterham said he had a gut feeling something would happen that day.

A Bristol soldier who saved the lives of his men in 2011 has been awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross (CGC) at Buckingham Palace.

Sjt Deacon Cutterham, 29, of 1st Battalion The Rifles, was presented with the honour by the Prince of Wales.

He plunged his arm into a water-filled ditch in Afghanistan to retrieve a live grenade, saving the lives of his eight-man team.

"I didn't have time to think. Instinct just kicked in," he said.

The CGC is awarded in recognition of acts of conspicuous gallantry during active operations against the enemy.

'Ice cold clarity'

Sjt Cutterham was on his first operation in command of the men, having been promoted in the field that morning following the death of his friend Colour Sgt Kevin Fortuna the previous day.

He said he just "posted" the grenade, dropping it into a parallel ditch because throwing the device would have left him exposed to its blast.

"It was quite nerve wracking but the trouble was it was midway through the tour so you just forget about it after a few days and just get on with it," he added.

Sjt Cutterham's citation recognised his "phenomenally brave and incredibly selfless" act of running towards the grenade, rather than taking cover himself.

"The decision then to drop it deliberately into the parallel ditch next to him, rather than to throw it away risking an airborne detonation, was one of ice cold clarity of thought and purpose," the citation read.

Sjt Cutterham was later injured when he fell from the roof of a compound under enemy attack and hit his head.

He came round two days later at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

More on this story

  • Honours for defence personnel in Afghanistan and Libya

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