James Ashworth

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James Thomas Duane Ashworth
VC
LanceCorporalJamesAshworthVC.jpg
Lance Corporal James Ashworth VC
Born 26 May 1989
Died June 13, 2012(2012-06-13) (aged 23)
Nahr-e Saraj District, Helmand Province, Afghanistan
Buried at Corby, Northamptonshire
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  British Army
Years of service 2006–2012 
Rank Army-GBR-OR-03.svg Lance Corporal
Unit Grenadier Guards
Battles/wars

War in Afghanistan

Awards Victoria Cross

Lance Corporal James Thomas Duane Ashworth VC (26 May 1989 – 13 June 2012) was a British recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. He was killed in Afghanistan on 13 June 2012 as he led his fire team in an attack on an enemy-held compound. The award was gazetted on Friday 22 March 2013,[1] having been confirmed by the British Army earlier in the week.[2] Ashworth is only the 14th recipient of the award since the end of the Second World War.

Early life[edit]

Ashworth lived and grew up in Corby, Northamptonshire, where he attended Lodge Park Technology College. A keen sportsman, he represented his school at both football and basketball.

In 2006, aged 17, he joined the British Army following his father who had previously served in the Grenadier Guards.[3][4] Ashworth trained at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick before being posted to Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards, which is focused on public duties and state ceremonial events in London.[5]

He was identified as being capable of becoming a paratrooper and was assigned to the Guards' Parachute Platoon, which is part of 3rd Battalion, Parachute Regiment. In his three years in the platoon, he took part in Operation Herrick 8 and was deployed to exercises overseas on three occasions. He was deployed to Canada before joining the Reconnaissance Platoon for Operation Herrick 16.[5]

Death[edit]

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

Victoria Cross citation for James Ashworth VC[6]

On 13 June 2012, Ashworth was serving as part of the Reconnaissance Platoon, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards. He was on a patrol in the Nahri Saraj District of Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He was leading a fire-team, clearing out compounds,[7] when his team came under fire from Taliban armed with rifles and rocket-propelled grenades from several mud huts. Ashworth charged the huts, providing cover for his team who followed in single file behind him.[8] After his fire-team took out most of the insurgents, Ashworth pursued the final remaining member. He crawled forward under cover of a low wall while his team provided covering fire and acted as a diversion. When he got within 5 metres (16 ft) of the enemy, he was killed as he attempted to throw a grenade.[9] Captain Michael Dobbin, commander of the platoon, who was awarded the Military Cross for repeated courage throughout the operational tour, said about Ashworth, "His professionalism under pressure and ability to remain calm in what was a chaotic situation is testament to his character. L/Cpl Ashworth was a pleasure to command and I will sorely miss his calming influence on the battlefield. Softly spoken, he stepped up to every task thrown in his direction."[7][4] After his death, his body was taken to Camp Bastion and was then repatriated to the United Kingdom.[8][10]

Victoria Cross

On 16 March 2013, British media reported that Ashworth was to be posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery and this was confirmed by the Ministry of Defence on 18 March 2013.[11] His citation was read out at the Grenadier Guard barracks in Aldershot.[9] He was only the second person to be awarded the medal during the Taliban insurgency, after Bryan Budd for his actions in 2006. Ashworth is the 14th person to be awarded the Victoria Cross since the end of the Second World War.[7] The Victoria Cross was first awarded for actions in the Crimean War of 1854–55, and is the highest British military award for bravery.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Ashworth played football both for his regiment, and for a local team near his home. He was a supporter of Tottenham Hotspur.[4] He has two sisters and two brothers, one of whom is also a soldier.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60445. pp. 5735–5736. 22 March 2013. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
  2. ^ "VC for heroic Lance Corporal". British Army. 18 March 2013. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  3. ^ Silverman, Rosa (16 March 2013). "British soldier to receive posthumous VC for bravery in Afghanistan". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c "Lance Corporal James Ashworth named by Ministry of Defence as dead British soldier as another is killed in Afghanistan". Daily Mail. 15 June 2012. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Lance Corporal James Ashworth killed in Afghanistan". Ministry of Defence. 15 June 2012. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  6. ^ "Parents of Lance Corporal James Ashworth pay tribute to Victoria Cross hero". The Daily Telegraph. 18 March 2013. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Victoria Cross for Afghan hero L/Cpl James Ashworth". BBC News. 16 March 2013. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  8. ^ a b "The Victoria Cross hero who charged at insurgents in Helmand battle to protect his comrades". Mail on Sunday. 17 March 2013. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  9. ^ a b "VC hero L/Cpl James Ashworth 'supremely courageous'". BBC News. 18 March 2013. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  10. ^ "Victoria Cross Award For L/Cpl James Ashworth". Sky News. 16 March 2013. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  11. ^ "Defence Diary: 18 March 2013". MoD blog. MoD. 18 March 2013. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  12. ^ Harris, Dominic (16 March 2013). "Lance Corporal James Ashworth to receive posthumous Victoria Cross for protecting comrades in Afghanistan". The Independent. Retrieved 17 March 2013.