THE family of a West Yorkshire paratrooper killed after he disobeyed a direct order and went to help a wounded comrade described their pride at receiving his posthumous George Medal today.
Private Martin Bell, 24, ignored concerns about his own safety to reach the injured soldier and give him life saving first aid moments after his legs were blown off by an improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan.
Pte Bell, from 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment, had been ordered not to move after the initial explosion but he made his way over to his friend across open ground where more IEDs were thought to be hidden.
The paratrooper, from Bradford, managed to stop the bleeding from the remains of Private Scott Meenagh’s legs and give him painkillers.
But as he helped to pull the injured soldier’s stretcher up a steep bank he triggered an IED and was killed near the village of Spoor Kalay in the Nahr-e-Saraj district of Helmand province in January last year.
His separated parents Simon and Elaine Bell received the George Medal privately from the Queen before the monarch hosted a Buckingham Palace investiture ceremony, also present were the paratrooper’s brothers Philip and Oliver.
The soldier’s father said: “To say I’m proud is an understatement.
“He touched so many hearts in his 24 years, if I live to be 424 I’ll never do the same - he was just an amazing son.
“He was told to stay where he was but he had not seen Scott.
“He ran across what was classed as dangerous ground to apply a tourniquet to both his legs and inject morphine.
“Unfortunately, two paces up a hill he hit the device and that was it.”
He added: “In my mind I think he thought he would make it, and if the shoe was on the other foot I know the other guys around him would have done the same.
“Every doctor we’ve talked to said Scott would have died if Martin had not done what he did and applied the tourniquets.”
The soldier was the 350th British service personnel to have died, or gone missing believed dead, since the start of operations in Afghanistan in 2001.
Pte Bell’s citation read: “Judging the needs of the critically injured casualty greater than his own life, and in an act of supreme selflessness, Private Bell ran to the casualty in order to render him immediate aid.”
Speaking about their meeting with the Queen his mother said: “It was absolutely amazing, it was fantastic. We were all so nervous, she just puts you at ease.
“Obviously we received it on behalf of Martin and all the lads in the Parachute Regiment - in fact all our heroes out there - but to receive (it) was absolutely fantastic.
“She said she’d read his citation and that he was a very, very brave man.”
Mrs Bell joked: “He never obeyed orders,” then added: “They were like his brothers and he would never have left his brothers.”