Army Honour For Hampshire Soldier

An Army officer is to be awarded a Mention in Despatches for capturing a Taliban bomb factory in Afghanistan.

Lieutenant Charlie Winstanley, 25, from near Winchester, Hampshire, led his men through such fierce fighting against insurgents last winter that 12 of his 30-strong platoon were either killed or wounded.

On November 2, Lt Winstanley and his platoon from the 4th Battalion The Rifles (4 RIFLES) attacked a compound in Sangin district, Helmand Province, that was very heavily defended by the Taliban.

As machine gun fire, grenades and rockets landed metres from the attacking troops, the platoon finally killed, captured or drove out the remaining insurgents to discover it was a bomb factory.

A total of 15 devices were discovered by the platoon - almost certainly saving lives of their fellow soldiers over the coming days and weeks.

A vital part of the officer's role in Helmand was working alongside his Afghan army counterparts.

This was incredibly difficult with the large number of attacks on the base and surrounding countryside.

His diplomatic skills and his example to the Afghans succeeded in boosting their capability and confidence in taking on the Taliban, so vital to the longer term mission of handing security over to the Afghan army and police.

The Lieutenant's citation talks of his "selfless commitment, courage under fire has been exemplary. For leadership in the most demanding circumstances Winstanley is highly deserving of public recognition''.

Lt Winstanley attended Wellington College before going to New College, Oxford.

He joined the Army in 2008 and is currently an Infantry Platoon Commander with 4 RIFLES based in Wiltshire.

The Mention in Despatches is the oldest form of recognition of gallantry within the UK Armed Forces.

Since 1993, the Mention in Despatches has been reserved for gallantry during active operations.