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Pvt Johnson Beharry

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I can't seem to find too many details of the circumstances surrounding his VC award. I know the basic details, about leading the Warrior under fire etc, and getting hit by an RPG later on...

Has anyone been able to get hold of the wording of the actual citation?

Any views on the award?

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I agree certainly worthy of a gallantry award i.e. CGC or MC, but not to decry the mans courage in any way awarding a VC ?? It is harder and harder to in this modern age to be actually considered for any type of gallantry award both civilian or military, this dirty war comes along and suddenly a VC. Read the citation as provided by BJOW.

Private Johnson Gideon Beharry - Victoria Cross

Pte Beharry receives the Victoria Cross for two separate acts of outstanding gallantry of the highest order whilst based in Al Amarah, Maysan Province, Iraq, in 2004.

In the first incident on 1 May 2004, Pte Beharry was driving the Platoon Commander?s Warrior armoured vehicle that had been called to the assistance of a foot patrol caught in a series of ambushes. The Warrior vehicle was hit by multiple rocket propelled grenades, causing damage and resulting in the loss of radio communications. The platoon commander, the vehicle?s gunner and a number of other soldiers in the vehicle were injured. Pte Beharry showed initiative and great courage driving through the ambush, taking his own crew and leading five other Warriors to safety. He then demonstrated outstanding bravery by extracting his wounded colleagues from the vehicle, all the time exposed to further enemy fire. He is cited on this occasion for ?valour of the highest order?.

Whilst back on duty on 11 June 2004, Pte Beharry was again driving the lead Warrior vehicle of his platoon through Al Amarah when this vehicle was ambushed. A rocket propelled grenade hit the vehicle and Pte Beharry received serious head injuries. Other rockets hit the vehicle incapacitating his commander and injuring several of the crew. Despite his very serious injuries, from which he is still recovering, Pte Beharry showed great strength of character, taking control of his vehicle and driving it out of the ambush area before losing consciousness. His citation reads:

?For his repeated extreme gallantry and unquestioned valour, despite intense direct attacks, personal injury and damage to his vehicle in the face of relentless enemy action, Private Beharry deserves the highest possible recognition.?

In WW2 RAF pilots were never considered for VC awards for bringing home crippled planes despite suffering multiple injuries and saving their colleugues. Why ? Because there is an element of self preservation. This reads the same to me an element of self preservation in Pte Beharrys actions which given the circumstances is perfectly understandable.

So where is the hopless expectation of death in this scenario, putting his own life after the lives of his colleagues in the expectation of self sacrifice. Well it doesn't stand out to me in that citation or am I missing something.

Its a bloody shame as all they have done is taint a bloody brave act by in my mind giving an inappropriate award for political reasons. After all the army needs a boost (as well as the government) after all the negative press.

When you read WW1 and WW2 citations for the VC it is a bloody different ball game.

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I must say, I am inclined to agree with you on this one. I didn`t think he was entitled to a VC, either. But at the end of the day he got it. I don`t want to go into details about the circumstances, as I wasn`t there, however it`ll be interesting to see if any more come up over the next few months/years.

Theres a guy called Lcpl Laing of the Black Watch who won the MC, during the war and has now just been given a QGM, for something else!!! Theres also a female medic from the RAMC who got an MID, for going out with every patrol her Coy was deployed on, she was with the Black Watch, on there resent mission, to Baghdad. Again, I can`t see why see got an MID for that, but again I wasn`t there so can`t really comment.

I wonder how many other acts, when un rewarded. I somethimes feel that these awards are a bit hollow, but I wouldn`t mind if I got one!!! However, if you got it for something naff, who it take the edge off it a bit do you think. At the end of the day it all bolis down to other peoples views on what they saw, of your act. You might might having been running away or something but someone thought you where doing something else. Example I heard the tale of a guy who was on the Galahad, and went below to resue his video collection, on his way back up he saw a med kit and picked that up as well. The powers that been thought he`d gone down to get this and he was awarded an MM.

Another is an MC in Iraq, I had mates who were there, and said no way was an MC in order as he didn`t do anything!!!

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Black Watch soldier Corporal Peter William Laing MC receives the Queen’s Gallantry Medal for his bravery following a suicide bomb attack in North Babil, Iraq, on 4 November 2004. Despite sustaining serious injuries himself, Cpl Laing dragged each of his wounded colleagues to safety, taking charge of the situation and administering first aid.

“Corporal Laing demonstrated considerable personal bravery, firm leadership and a complete absence of self-interest in the successful treatment and recovery of his section.”

His actions

“were in the highest traditions of the Black Watch and of the service.”

The Queen’s Gallantry Medal is also awarded to Private Jonetani Matia Lawaci of the Black Watch. Pte Lawaci is cited for his brave rescue of three colleagues who almost drowned when their Warrior plunged off a bridge into deep water in North Babil on 29 October 2004. Pte Lawaci is commended for demonstrating

“the highest form of courage and quick thinking.”

Chief Petty Officer Matthew Stephen Fisher is awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal for his actions in Grenada following the devastation of Hurricane Ivan in September 2004. With law and order rapidly breaking down following the hurricane, CPO Fisher seized the initiative and created a path to the main hospital, ensuring the safe arrival of first aid teams and the maintenance of medical supplies. The citation praises his:

“calm demeanour, exemplary leadership and bravery in the face of adversity.”

The Air Force Cross is awarded to Lieutenant Commander Martin John Ford, the aircraft commander and observer of a Search and Rescue helicopter, for bravery and professionalism demonstrated following the Boscastle flooding in August 2004. Despite rapidly deteriorating weather, severely decreased visibility and failed communications due to water ingress, Lt Cdr Ford decided to continue with the rescue operation. After a demanding operation lasting almost five hours, which included Lt Cdr Ford having to instruct his pilots through hand signals, the helicopter returned safely to base having evacuated 23 casualties to safety. Lt Cdr Ford is commended for his

“inspiration to his crew, displaying incredible leadership under enormous pressure, selfless bravery and absolute professionalism.”

Captain Peter Holmes McLelland RM and Lieutenant Michael Scott receive the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery in the Air for their contribution as the helicopter pilots in this incident.

The Queen’s Commendation for Bravery in the Air is also awarded to Royal Air Force winch men, Master Aircrew Clive Andrew MacDonald Chapman, Sergeant Mario Alessandro Testa and Sergeant Martin Peter Thompson for their actions rescuing trapped civilians during the Boscastle flooding.

Other honours and awards reflect the full range of ranks and expertise of the Armed Forces. Lieutenant Colonel James Michael Cowan, receives the OBE for his command and leadership of 1st Battalion The Black Watch in Iraq between June and December 2004. The citation praises his

“clear and decisive leadership.”

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Mr Wasp,

Most of the people you 've mentioned here have a better write up than Beharry.

The media didn't print much either. I remember after the Falklands Campaign, when Jones & Mckay were to be awarded the VC, it was front page news for a week, and you coudn't get it off the television.

Its sad, really, it appears to have been devalued . I can't see it going for a quarter of a million ounds at Spink.

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I must confess to having had a bit of a hidden agenda when i originally made this post.....i originally saw it on Sky News (as you all know, awards and decorations are not my bag, so that was the first i knew of it)......when i saw it i thought "Hmmm, am i just being a cynic or is there more to this than meets the eye?".......i must admit that the replies have confirmed my original suspicions!!.. wink.gif

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       Its sad, really, it appears to have been devalued . I can't see it going for a quarter of a million pounds at Spink.

I think the normal bravery (despite what my last post said) of our Armed Forces is generally devalued as time goes on anyway. It's a very sad state of affairs indeed when more air-time is given to the Michael Jackson trial than such things as this....it really only seems to be amongst such circles as ours that such acts are recognized..... angry.gif

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  • 3 years later...

The full citation, as reproduced in various broadsheets:

Private Beharry carried out two individual acts of great heroism by which he saved the lives of his comrades. Both were in direct face of the enemy, under intense fire, at great personal risk to himself (one leading to him sustaining very serious injuries). His valour is worthy of the highest recognition.

In the early hours of May 1 2004 Beharry's company was ordered to replenish an isolated coalition forces outpost located in the centre of the troubled city of Al Amarah. He was the driver of a platoon commander's warrior armoured fighting vehicle. His platoon was the company's reserve force and was placed on immediate notice to move.

As the main elements of his company were moving into the city to carry out the replenishment, they were re-tasked to fight through a series of enemy ambushes in order to extract a foot patrol that had become pinned down under sustained small arms and heavy machine gun fire and improvised explosive device and rocket-propelled grenade attack. Beharry's platoon was tasked over the radio to come to the assistance of the remainder of the company, who were attempting to extract the isolated foot patrol.

As his platoon passed a roundabout, en route to the pinned-down patrol, they became aware that the road to the front was empty of all civilians and traffic - an indicator of a potential ambush ahead. The platoon commander ordered the vehicle to halt, so that he could assess the situation. The vehicle was then immediately hit by multiple rocket-propelled grenades.

Eyewitnesses report that the vehicle was engulfed in a number of violent explosions, which physically rocked the 30-tonne warrior. As a result of this ferocious initial volley of fire, both the platoon commander and the vehicle's gunner were incapacitated by concussion and other wounds, and a number of the soldiers in the rear of the vehicle were also wounded.

Due to damage sustained in the blast to the vehicle's radio systems, Beharry had no means of communication with either his turret crew or any of the other warrior vehicles deployed around him. He did not know if his commander or crewmen were still alive, or how serious their injuries may be.

In this confusing and dangerous situation, on his own initiative, he closed his driver's hatch and moved forward through the ambush position to try to establish some form of communications, halting just short of a barricade placed across the road. The vehicle was hit again by sustained rocket-propelled grenade attack from insurgent fighters in the alleyways and on rooftops around his vehicle.

Further damage to the warrior from these explosions caused it to catch fire and fill rapidly with thick, noxious smoke. Beharry opened up his armoured hatch cover to clear his view and orientate himself to the situation. He still had no radio communications and was now acting on his own initiative, as the lead vehicle of a six warrior convoy in an enemy-controlled area of the city at night.

He assessed that his best course of action to save the lives of his crew was to push through, out of the ambush. He drove his warrior directly through the barricade, not knowing if there were mines or improvised explosive devices placed there to destroy his vehicle. By doing this he was able to lead the remaining five warriors behind him towards safety.

As the smoke in his driver's tunnel cleared, he was just able to make out the shape of another rocket-propelled grenade in flight heading directly towards him. He pulled the heavy armoured hatch down with one hand, whilst still controlling his vehicle with the other. However, the overpressure from the explosion of the rocket wrenched the hatch out of his grip, and the flames and force of the blast passed directly over him, down the driver's tunnel, further wounding the semi-conscious gunner in the turret.

The impact of this rocket destroyed Beharry's armoured periscope, so he was forced to drive the vehicle through the remainder of the ambushed route, some 1500m long, with his hatch opened up and his head exposed to enemy fire, all the time with no communications with any other vehicle. During this long surge through the ambushes the vehicle was again struck by rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire.

While his head remained out of the hatch, to enable him to see the route ahead, he was directly exposed to much of this fire, and was himself hit by a 7.62mm bullet, which penetrated his helmet and remained lodged on its inner surface. Despite this harrowing weight of incoming fire Beharry continued to push through the extended ambush, still leading his platoon until he broke clean.

He then visually identified another warrior from his company and followed it through the streets of Al Amarah to the outside of the Cimic House outpost, which was receiving small arms fire from the surrounding area. Once he had brought his vehicle to a halt outside, without thought for his own personal safety, he climbed onto the turret of the still-burning vehicle and, seemingly oblivious to the incoming enemy small arms fire, manhandled his wounded platoon commander out of the turret, off the vehicle and to the safety of a nearby warrior.

He then returned once again to his vehicle and again mounted the exposed turret to lift out the vehicle's gunner and move him to a position of safety. Exposing himself yet again to enemy fire he returned to the rear of the burning vehicle to lead the disorientated and shocked dismounts and casualties to safety.

Remounting his burning vehicle for the third time, he drove it through a complex chicane and into the security of the defended perimeter of the outpost, thus denying it to the enemy.

Only at this stage did Beharry pull the fire extinguisher handles, immobilising the engine of the vehicle, dismounted and then moved himself into the relative safety of the back of another warrior. Once inside Beharry collapsed from the sheer physical and mental exhaustion of his efforts and was subsequently himself evacuated.

Having returned to duty following medical treatment, on June 11 2004 Beharry's warrior was part of a quick reaction force tasked to attempt to cut off a mortar team that had attacked a coalition force base in Al Amarah. As the lead vehicle of the platoon he was moving rapidly through the dark city streets towards the suspected firing point, when his vehicle was ambushed by the enemy from a series of rooftop positions.

During this initial heavy weight of enemy fire, a rocket-propelled grenade detonated on the vehicle's frontal armour, just six inches [15cm] from Beharry's head, resulting in a serious head injury. Other rockets struck the turret and sides of the vehicle, incapacitating his commander and injuring several of the crew.

With the blood from his head injury obscuring his vision, Beharry managed to continue to control his vehicle, and forcefully reversed the warrior out of the ambush area. The vehicle continued to move until it struck the wall of a nearby building and came to rest. Beharry then lost consciousness as a result of his wounds.

By moving the vehicle out of the enemy's chosen killing area he enabled other warrior crews to be able to extract his crew from his vehicle, with a greatly reduced risk from incoming fire.

Despite receiving a serious head injury, which later saw him being listed as very seriously injured and in a coma for some time, his level-headed actions in the face of heavy and accurate enemy fire at short range again almost certainly saved the lives of his crew and provided the conditions for their safe evacuation to medical treatment.

Beharry displayed repeated extreme gallantry and unquestioned valour, despite intense direct attacks, personal injury and damage to his vehicle in the face of relentless enemy action.

I think Johnson Beharry earned his VC.


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  • 2 years later...

Sirs please please take a moment read the VC citation of Cpl Bryan Budd VC ( London Gazette, 14 December 2006). I believe this was young mans acts of Valour was one of the finest and equal to any previous VC citations.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I agree that he deserved this medal!

Without question.

I had noticed that some of the gainsayers who appeared here to join comment have been careful with their words. Not so when the same individuals have commented on Beharry's VC in other fora, where the comments had more than a tinge of that very debilitating illness - racism.


James Hoard

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Two quick comments.

1) I wasn't there, so I can't possibly know the circumstances suffciently well to 'grade' the award. I've always felt that 'good VC' was clearly an oxymoron, yet some persist in trying to distinguish some awards as 'better' than others!

2) And if Beharry's VC was awarded partly for political motives, that won't make it unique! Look at the 182 VCs issued during the Indian Mutiny, of which 35 were earned in September alone for the attacks on Delhi. And the eleven awarded to various defenders of Rourke's Drift.

Arguably the Mutiny VCs were awarded before it had achieved the cachet of THE award for gallantry in the field, but almost certainly the fact that the British public needed some good news out of India was a factor as well. And, without detracting for a minute from the heroic exploits of private Hook and his comrades in South Africa, it again appears to me that recognizing those brave heroes helped, in part, balance the morale-busting news from Isandalwana.

My tuppence worth.


Edited by peter monahan
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  • 3 years later...

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