Family of hero Para tell of pride as Queen awards George Cross

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The family of a paratrooper killed after he disobeyed a direct order and went to help a wounded comrade described their pride at receiving his posthumous George Medal yesterday.

Private Martin Bell, 24, from Bradford, 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.

Private Martin Bell's brother Oliver, mother Elaine, father Simon and brother Philip.

Private Martin Bell's brother Oliver, mother Elaine, father Simon and brother Philip.

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 managed to stop the bleeding from the remains of Private Scott Meenagh’s legs and gave him painkillers.

But as he helped to pull the injured soldier’s stretcher up a steep bank he triggered another IED and was killed in the Nahr-e-Saraj district of Helmand province in January last year.

His 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 his brothers Philip and Oliver.

Private Martin Bell

Private Martin Bell

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.”

Also recognised was Det Chief Supt Andy Brennan, head of West Yorkshire Police’s homicide and major inquiry team, who was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal for an outstanding career.

He has worked on a number of high-profile cases including the disappearance of nine-year-old Shannon Matthews in 2008, and the murder of Pc Sharon Beshenivsky and attempted murder of her colleague Pc Teresa Milburn in 2005 in Bradford.

The senior officer said the award also recognised the efforts of those around him: “Whatever jobs I deal with I have a team of dedicated detectives and support staff around me who deal with all aspects of the investigation.”

Meanwhile a soldier who ran across open ground under Taliban fire to rescue three terrified young Afghan children has been awarded the Military Cross.

Corporal Carl Taylor, 25, from Birmingham, of 3rd Battalion The Mercian Regiment, was a month into his tour of Afghanistan when the incident occurred last March.

joanne.ginley@ypn.co.uk