Military Cross for Army hero who saved wounded boy, 5

DEFIED TALIBAN: Lance Corporal Andrew Wardle ignored enemy fire

DEFIED TALIBAN: Lance Corporal Andrew Wardle ignored enemy fire

A soldier has been awarded the Military Cross after sprinting 300ft under enemy fire to save a critically wounded boy from the battlefield in Afghanistan.

Lance Corporal Andrew Wardle, 22, sprang into action after the five-year-old wandered into the middle of a vicious firefight. He saw the boy running towards him just as a Taliban bullet tore into the lad’s lower back and knocked him into a crumpled heap.

L/Cpl Wardle, from Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, leapt from his position and raced to scoop up the boy, ignoring bullets slamming into the ground at his feet.

The Military Cross (MC) is the third highest medal awarded for gallantry in the face of the enemy on land, surpassed only by the George Cross and Victoria Cross.

L/Cpl Wardle, of 2nd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment (The Green Howards), said: ‘We were assaulting a Taliban firing position when another group of insurgents opened up on us from our right.

‘I saw a boy about 150ft away right in the middle of the enemy fire. He was heading towards us for safety. As soon as the Taliban realised he was coming our way they started firing at him. They wanted to kill him rather than let him fall into our hands.

‘I just ran out and grabbed him and ran back with him. He was crying for his “Mama” and his father. We cut open the back of his shirt and put field dressing bandages on the wounds.’

A helicopter flew the boy to a field hospital for treatment.The incident took place during a four-day battle at Musa Qala in Helmand in January.

Meanwhile, two soldiers who leapt into a canal to save a man blasted into the water by a roadside bomb have received the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery.

Second Lieutenant Connor Maxwell, 21, from Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire, and Rifleman Daniel Nickson, 23, from Darlington, Co Durham, acted after the wounded British rifleman suffered head injuries near Sangin.