Soldiers honoured for bravery in Afghanistan


By Amanda MacMillan

SCOTS-based soldiers have been honoured for acts of bravery while serving on a tough six-month tour of Afghanistan.

The soldiers, all from the 3 RIFLES Battlegroup, had their awards announced in the Operational Honours List which was released today (Fri).

Lieutenant Colonel Nick Kitson, the 3rd Battalion’s commanding officer, was awarded a Distinguished Service Order, for continuous outstanding leadership during a seven month tour which saw 30 members of his Battlegroup killed in action and many more injured.

His citation reads: “Determined to apply a ‘people- centric’ approach to counter insurgency, Kitson improved conditions immeasurably for the people of Sangin and set about building a protected community by establishing a series of patrol bases on the outside of the town that would allow him to patrol inwards, guaranteeing the safety of the people that lived within.

“Kitson demonstrated indomitable leadership throughout; setting an example of dogged determination that inspired all those beneath him even though he was himself blown up twice.”

One of his soldiers, Lance Corporal James McKie, originally from New Zealand, has been awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross for saving his colleagues, when a grenade was thrown at his platoon commander and landed at his feet.

Lance Corporal McKie said: “It was dropping down into the alleyway before it detonated. As I continued to watch it, as you are trained to, I received fragmentation in my face and right arm. Because of the way Captain Kerr was positioned, he got a larger piece of fragmentation in his left leg, but otherwise no-one else was seriously hurt.”

Major Tim Harris, officer commanding A Company, 3 RIFLES, was appointed MBE for “inspirational example, humbling courage, tenacity and extraordinary demonstration of leadership in the face of seemingly overwhelming adversity” after A Company lost six members and had 18 wounded in action.

The citation continues: “He and his soldiers have operated in an area little short of the heart of darkness, but have left it a better place than when they arrived.”

Rifleman Gareth Sutherland was awarded a Queen’s Commendation for Bravery for “unwavering courage and selfless commitment displayed continually over a six month period” and concludes that he “is a most extraordinary soldier”.

Due to his “consistent professionalism, bravery and determination in the face of the enemy”, Private Callum Brotherston, of B Company 1 SCOTS, has been awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal.

Major Graeme Wearmouth, from Edinburgh, who commanded B Company 1 SCOTS throughout their time in Wishtan has received a Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service, for his inspirational leadership throughout the tour.

His citation reads: “By sheer force of personality, hard, painstaking and assiduous tactical analysis, and not a little downright faith, he has inspired his men and bred the confidence for them to confront their fears. “

 Other soldiers from 3 RIFLES who got awards are Corporal Lee Brownson, who was awarded a posthumous Conspicuous Gallantry Cross, Rifleman Mark Turner who received a posthumous Mention in Dispatches, Rifleman Harry Lanceley, who was awarded a Military Cross (Harry has since left the Army), Captain Andy Michael, who received a Mention in Dispatches he has also since left the Army),  2nd Lieutenant Connor Maxwell, Rifleman Daniel Nickson and Lance Corporal Aselemo Vetanibua, who all got Queen’s Commendations for Bravery.

 Other members of B Company 1 SCOTS received Chief of Joint Operations’ Commendations for meritorious service: Lieutenant David Clark, Warrant officer Class 2 Scott McQuillin, Corporal Edward Scott and Lance Corporal Fraser McPherson.

 All awards will be presented at a later date.