Suffolk Soldier Gets Bravery Award

22 March 2013, 06:00 | Updated: 22 March 2013, 07:59

A Royal Anglian soldier from Suffolk is being given a top award for bravery.

27 year old Lance Corporal Lawrence Kayser from Woodton was injured by shrapnel when a grenade was thrown at his platoon.

He was just a few metres from enemy fighters hiding behind a wall risked his life to single-handedly drive them off.

For his bravery, and patrolling for five hours afterwards despite a grenade injury, Lance Corporal Lawrence Kayser of Woodton, Suffolk has been awarded the Military Cross.

L/cpl Kayser of The 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, was part of a platoon of soldiers taken by air deep into enemy territory as part of Operation Maahi Buzurg - an attempt to clear a notorious insurgent-held area.

The platoon was involved in a series of deadly battles over the next 10 days, one of which could have ended disastrously but for the soldier's courage and quick thinking.

In the early hours of June 21 the platoon had waited for hours to ambush a known insurgent route in Gereshk Valley. At around dawn, and by pure chance, a group of enemy fighters had positioned themselves beyond a wall in a compound just three metres away. Moments later a single insurgent rose above the wall, only to see 20 ISAF soldiers beneath him. A ferocious fire-fight erupted.

L/cpl Kayser, positioned near the rear of the platoon and, nearest to the insurgent, realised all the men were now at risk from an attack coming from the adjacent compound. He leapt from his ditch and sprinted around the wall in case Taliban were there. His judgment proved excellent as entering the compound he came face to face with an insurgent fighter. 

"It was a surprise for both of us,'' said Lawrence. "Neither of us thought the other was there.

"I just had the feeling I wanted all the angles covered. He had an AK47. We both raised our rifles at the same time but I fired from the hip.

"Luckily he missed but I clipped him in the abdomen. He dived back as I dived to the side.'' He added: "I have done a few tours before and have learned a bit about enemy tactics so I didn't want him to get between the lads and cause a nuisance. I decided to move through a nearby doorway and cut him off.''

L/cpl Kayser, who is based in Bulford, Wiltshire, pursued him before a grenade was hurled into the alleyway, landing just metres from his feet. He was struck on the arm with shrapnel from the blast. Despite a "bee sting'' sensation in his arm he pressed forward and the enemy fled, allowing him to clear the rest of the compound. It was only when he returned to his base five hours later that he discovered the extent of his shrapnel wounds.

The soldier, who has had three tours of Afghanistan and two tours of Iraq, was treated and returned to his patrol base, admitting: "You're always scared but for me it was instinct, I've been in fights with the enemy before.''

His citation reads: "Still only an inexperienced Lance Corporal, the decisions Kayser made that day were in the full knowledge of the extreme danger he would be exposed to. 

"At any stage he could have stopped or waited for support but he knew with every second the shock effect of his assault would dissipate, placing his comrades in greater danger. Kayser's exceptionally gallant actions undoubtedly saved a potentially disastrous situation and are worthy of very significant national recognition.'' 

He said: "I'm humbled but I have seen a lot of brave actions in theatre so I'm not sure I'm worthy of it. I've never been a medal man. But my parents are ecstatic.''