SOLDIER RECEIVES IRAQ BRAVERY HONOUR

by Sarah Dunn A YOUNG soldier from Doncaster has been honoured by the Queen for his bravery while serving in Iraq.

Corporal Christopher Balmforth, 24, a Queen's Royal Hussars' soldier, was awarded the Military Cross on the list of operational medals announced earlier this month.

On hearing the news Cpl Balmforth said: "This is brilliant! I wasn't expecting it. I was called in after our St Patrick's Day parade and told the news by the colonel of the regiment, General Denaro."

The prestigious medal was awarded to Cpl Balmforth, known as "Barney" among regiment colleagues, after his team was ambushed during his tour in Iraq last year.

A rocket propelled grenade lodged in his armoured Land Rover but did not go off. The driver of the vehicle was then hit by small arms fire which left him incapacitated.

Cpl Balmforth, who stays with his parents in Dunscroft when he is in this country, explained what happened next.

"I was second in command of the team and I knew I had to do something. I got out of the vehicle and returned fire on the enemy position."

Then, with enemy fire still coming at them, he led a small team to overrun the position, killing three of the five enemies and seriously wounding a fourth. In line with his military training, Cpl Balmforth gave first aid to the wounded while the other troops cleared the situation.

An extract from the citation that was given before he received his honour read: "He was instrumental in protecting his comrade's life and regaining the initiative in very dangerous circumstances against overwhelming odds."

And the medal is not the only recent piece of good news - for he and his wife Laura, who are hoping to buy their own house in Doncaster in the near future, have also found out that they are to become parents for the first time.

"I found out about a week before," he said. "If these things come in threes maybe I should put some money on the lottery!"

sarah.dunn@doncastertoday.co.uk