Family’s pride at second VC award 70 years on

Lance Corporal Joshua Mark Leakey of the Parachute Regiment is saluted by Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Nicholas Carter, after he was named as being awarded the Victoria Cross
Lance Corporal Joshua Mark Leakey of the Parachute Regiment is saluted by Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Nicholas Carter, after he was named as being awarded the Victoria Cross
0
Have your say

A Para has won the Victoria Cross almost 70 years after another member of his family was awarded the same honour.

Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey, 27, has been given the British armed forces’ highest military decoration awarded for valour in the face of the enemy for heroic exploits in Afghanistan.

His second cousin twice removed, Sergeant Nigel Gray Leakey, was a posthumous recipient of the Victoria Cross in November 1945 for his gallantry while fighting in Africa during the Second World War.

Lance Corporal Leakey, from Hampshire, is only the 15th serviceman to receive the VC since the Second World War.

He is also the third serviceman to receive the VC for service in Afghanistan and the only one not to receive it posthumously.

He will receive his medal for the role he played during a combined UK/US assault on a Taliban stronghold in August 2013.

The 1 Para man showed “complete disregard” for his own safety as the group came under attack from around 20 insurgents armed with machine guns and rocket propelled grenades in Helmand province.

First he ran to the top of a barren hill and, with the “snap and crack” of enemy fire all around him, realised that two friendly machine gun teams had been surrounded.

Despite being the most junior member of the group he took control of the situation, giving first aid to a wounded US Marine Corps captain and beginning casualty evacuation.

He then went back up the hill and took control of one of the machine guns, with bullets ricocheting off its frame, before running down again, drawing enemy fire and helping regain the initiative.

During the battle 11 insurgents were killed and four wounded. Lance Corporal Leakey, who joined 1 Para in 2007, said that he was “deeply honoured” but insisted that the award was for everyone in his regiment and battalion.

“You don’t really think what could happen to yourself, you think ‘How is what I’m doing now going to improve the situation?’

“It’s part of the very nature of being in the Army, and especially the Parachute Regiment, that we have to adapt to situations you don’t expect to happen.

“The only thing I was really scared of was letting my cap badge down.

“That’s why I joined the Army - to be a paratrooper - I wasn’t interested in doing anything else.

“In my mind the biggest fear is letting the side down, letting your regiment down and not doing your cap badge proud.”

Lance Corporal Leakey, who served during three tours in Afghanistan in 2009, 2011 and 2013, said his family was “over the moon” when they found out he would receive the Victoria Cross.

Asked about his relative who also won the VC, he said: “It’s from my dad’s side of the family - they are all very military-orientated, there’s been someone in the military from every generation that I know of.”