The Funeral of Lance Corporal James Ashworth VC

Photographed by Lisa Joy Oliver

By Michael Mahon

 

[ London Gazette, 22 March 2013 ], Nahr-e-Saraj District, Afghanistan, 13 June 2012, Lance Corporal James Ashworth, 1st Bn, Grenadier Guards.

Lance Corporal James Ashworth and his platoon had been inserted into the area by air on 13th June 2012 for a military operation to neutralise an insurgent sniper team, when they came under immediate fire as soon as they landed.

Lance Corporal Ashworth immediately ran 300 metres into the heart of the insurgent-held village with his fire team. Two insurgents were killed and two sniper rifles recovered during this initial assault, but an Afghan Local Police follow-up attack stalled when a patrolman was shot and killed by the fleeing enemy.

Lance Corporal Ashworth insisted on moving to the front of his fire team as they continued their advance on the enemy held compound within the village. Stepping over the body of the dead patrolman he threw a grenade and surged forward into the compound quickly driving the insurgent back to an out-building from where he launched his tenacious last stand.

The village was now under fire from several positions by insurgents desperate to protect their sniper team. The platoon needed to detain or kill the final sniper, who had been pinned down by the lead fire team, and extract as soon as possible.

Needing to break the stalemate Lance Corporal Ashworth dropped to the floor and began to crawl behind a knee-high wall that ran parallel to the front of the outbuilding. The wall provided just enough cover to conceal his body as he inched forward with his last grenade to be within five metres of the insurgent's position. To ensure his last grenade landed accurately, Lance Corporal Ashworth deliberately crawled out from behind the low wall and its limited protection to get a better angle for the throw. Now in full view of the enemy just five metres away, rounds started to tear up the ground around him. Undeterred, he was about to throw the grenade when he was fatally hit by enemy fire.

Despite the ferocity of the insurgent's resistance, Ashworth refused to be beaten. His total disregard for his own safety in ensuring 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.

 

 

 

 

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Photo: Illustrative image for the 'The Funeral of Lance Corporal James Ashworth VC' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'The Funeral of Lance Corporal James Ashworth VC' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'The Funeral of Lance Corporal James Ashworth VC' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'The Funeral of Lance Corporal James Ashworth VC' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'The Funeral of Lance Corporal James Ashworth VC' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'The Funeral of Lance Corporal James Ashworth VC' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'The Funeral of Lance Corporal James Ashworth VC' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'The Funeral of Lance Corporal James Ashworth VC' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'The Funeral of Lance Corporal James Ashworth VC' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'The Funeral of Lance Corporal James Ashworth VC' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'The Funeral of Lance Corporal James Ashworth VC' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'The Funeral of Lance Corporal James Ashworth VC' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'The Funeral of Lance Corporal James Ashworth VC' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'The Funeral of Lance Corporal James Ashworth VC' page
This page was added by Michael Mahon on 25/06/2014.

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