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Brave soliders remebered


9:55am 3rd August 2011

The gallantry of two soldiers killed in action in Afghanistan is to be honoured at the official opening of two new accommodation blocks at the Infantry Training Centre (ITC), Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire.

The £16m buildings will be named after Sergeant Craig Brelsford, who was serving with the 2nd Battalion The MERCIAN Regiment when he was killed in September, 2007, and Corporal Lee Brownson, who was deployed with 3 RIFLES when he fell in January, 2010.

The blocks will be officially opened next Wednesday, August 3, at 11.30 a.m. by General Sir Nick Parker KCB CBE ADC, Commander-in-Chief Land Forces, with the families and friends of the deceased in attendance.

Sgt Brelsford (25), from Chilwell, Nottingham, was posthumously awarded the Military Cross for his part in the rescue of wounded comrades in a night time contact near the town of Garmsir.

Cpl Brownson (30), of Bishop Auckland, was posthumously awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross for the selfless commitment shown when rescuing wounded comrades during an attack on his patrol base south of Sangin.

The ITC has long held the tradition of naming buildings after those infantrymen whose courageous actions have been recognised by the Queen.

The two new blocks, which provide 392 bed spaces and were completed eight weeks ahead of schedule, are part of a multi-million pound modernisation programme of single-living accommodation throughout Catterick Garrison.

Corporal Craig Brelsford MC:

During a deliberate operation on 7-8 September 2007 in Garmsir, where the intent was to clear the Taliban Front Line along a heavily defended and well prepared defensive position A (Grenadier) Company became fixed after sustaining a number of casualties.  1 Platoon was on the southern most flank; 3 Platoon, Sergeant Brelsford’s platoon was ordered to assist in the evacuation of four casualties in a killing area with Taliban firing positions on two sides.  As his platoon moved forward to coordinate the evacuation they came under fire from another enemy position and almost immediately a member of the platoon was shot.  In spite of the heavy weight of enemy fire he moved forward to co-ordinate the evacuation of the casualty.  Sergeant Brelsford then moved in complete isolation, feeling his way in the pitch dark with bullets cracking past him, across thirty metres of killing zone.  Having quickly assessed the situation he withdrew once again in isolation and under intense enemy fire out of the killing area returning to his platoon.  He knew the only option was to fight forward and put himself between the enemy and the casualties, so creating a protective screen behind which they could extract the severely wounded men.  He selected a section to launch forward.  They held their fire in order to maintain surprise and protect the security of the casualties. Having gained ground he moved fearlessly between his soldiers, co-coordinating their fire and constantly providing inspiration and encouragement to some very frightened young soldiers.  In doing so he was shot in the neck and was critically injured. Only once he was in the safety of a VIKING vehicle did he stop commanding his men, a short time later he succumbed to his injuries. Sergeant Brelsford displayed leadership, professional skill and courage of the very highest order. At no stage did he display even the slightest concern for his own safety.”

Corporal Lee Brownson CGC:

"Throughout his tour of duty, Corporal Brownson displayed numerous acts of gallantry.

On 21 December 2009, just after last light, the enemy attacked Patrol Base Almas (an isolated patrol base in the Green Zone to the south of Sangin District Centre) without warning blowing up one of the base’s main sangars with a command wire Improvised Explosive Device (IED), which blew the two sentries manning the sangar out of it, one of them into the darkness outside the perimeter wire. Brownson reacted immediately and without body armour, helmet or weapon, he ran to where the sangar had been, followed closely by another soldier he approached the rubble where he immediately saw one of the sentries, pinned by a wooden beam across his chest. Disregarding the heavy enemy small arms fire and the risk of further IEDs he assisted in the rescue of  the sentry by removing the beam before helping the dazed, limping soldier back inside the base where other soldiers took charge of him. Brownson then turned straight back into the enemy fire to look for the other soldier, jumping down onto the rubble that lay outside the base he began to search in the darkness whilst bullets were striking all about him, eventually finding the buried soldier. Brownson and his comrade dug the deafened and badly shocked soldier out with their bare hands and passed him back up into the base. This is just one example of the immense courage and determination displayed by Brownson who was sadly killed in action.”

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