George Medal for paratrooper who risked life in minefield to rescue wounded comrade.
A paratrooper who died after running through a minefield in Afghanistan to rescue a colleague who was bleeding to death has been awarded a posthumous George Medal for a "breathtaking act of bravery".
Private Martin Bell, 24, was killed after administering life-saving first aid to a soldier who lost both his legs after stepping on an Improvised Explosive Device (IED).
The act of "supreme selflessness" took place in January when a platoon from the 2nd Bn The Parachute Regiment was crossing a open area of tall ‘Elephant’ grass in Helmand.
One soldier was successfully evacuated after stepping on a mine, and suffered an immediate double amputation. A second patrol was then sent to retrieve his kit, which included a valuable Vallon mine detector.
Private Bell, who was his section’s lead scout, found some of the equipment but his section commander decided there was an “untenable risk” in the minefield and ordered a withdrawal.
As the Paras left, one stepped on another IED which also blew off both his legs and threw Pte Bell 15 yards away.
The section commander told Pte Bell not to move but the soldier “judged the situation so critical” that he ran to the colleague’s aid despite the blast removing his own mine detector.
“Pte Bell judged the needs of the casualty greater than the risk to his own life,” his citation read.
“In an act of supreme selflessness he ran to the casualty in order to render him immediate aid.
“At that moment the ground he crossed constituted the most dangerous piece of terrain in the world. In the preceding hour two IEDs had exploded a few metres away.”
On reaching the casualty Pte Bell applied tourniquets to both leg stumps and stemmed the blood flow.
Doctors later said that there was “no mistake that this saved the casualty’s life” as “the nature of the injuries would have resulted in him bleeding to death”.
Pte Bell stayed with the soldier for an hour, shouting out details of his condition to medics as the Paras slowly swept their way back into the minefield.
But as Pte Bell helped carry the stretcher up a steep bank a third device was initiated and while his body “protected the casualty from the blast” he suffered fatal injuries.