From the Independent today:
“A 19-year-old soldier is to be recommended for the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest gallantry decoration, after driving his blazing vehicle through an ambush, saving the lives of its injured commander and crew in southern Iraq last month.”
British history buffs will know that the most Victoria Crosses (11) won at a single engagement was at Rorke’s Drift, the battle later immortalized (and, inevitably, somewhat fictionalized) in Zulu, one of the finest, possibly the finest, war movies ever made. The medals themselves are made from Russian guns captured in the Crimean War.
That’s the history. And now there’s Iraq, history being made today:
“Though still being hit by machine-gun and rocket-propelled grenades, the driver succeeded in crashing through the barrier and led the way for the rest of the convoy to get to safety. He then unloaded the wounded and made sure they were tended by medical orderlies before remounting his burning vehicle and driving it to where it could cause little harm if the fuel and ammunition still aboard blew up. He drew a fire extinguisher to tackle the blaze before he was taken away to have his own wounds treated.
“When a platoon of Argylls still trapped in the first ambush position ran out of ammunition, they then carried out a bayonet charge to clear their positions.”
’Hero’ is an often debased label these days. Not on this occasion.