Page last updated at 13:40 GMT, Thursday, 30 October 2008

Marine honoured with George Cross

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Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher is awarded the George Cross

A Royal Marine reservist who shielded his comrades from a grenade blast in Afghanistan has been awarded the George Cross by the Queen.

Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher, 24, of Solihull, West Midlands, lay in front of the grenade after walking into a trip wire in Helmand Province.

His rucksack took the brunt of the blast and he suffered severe bruising.

He is among eight Royal Marines based at 40 Commando in Taunton, Somerset, to be honoured.

The marines collected their medals from the Queen at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace earlier.

'Huge honour'

The George Cross is awarded only rarely for "acts of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger".

L/Cpl Croucher had been on patrol on 9 February with 40 Commando Royal Marines.

His reconnaissance force had been investigating a Taliban compound where they suspected bombs were being made.

He felt himself walk into a tripwire which pulled the pin out of a grenade.

He said earlier this year: "I thought 'I'm going to get gravely injured whatever I do so I might as well jump in front of the grenade and try to save the lads'.

"Being awarded the George Cross is a huge honour, for me and for 40 Commando.

"But there are so many acts of bravery by the lads that don't make it into the press.

"It's all part of the job - they would have done the same. You just do it."

L/Cpl Croucher served as a regular Royal Marine for five years, including two tours of Iraq, before working as a director of a security company.

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30 Mar 08 |  West Midlands

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