Skip to main content Skip to accessibility
  Non-Javascript users can confirm they have successfully signed out of MyAccount by clicking here

Heywood's finest collects Military Cross

​​​​​​​​​June 2013

Heywood's Lance Corporal Stephen Shaw has attended Buckingham Palace to collect his Military Cross for heroism while serving in Afghanistan.

Lance Corporal Shaw, 24, of the Royal Army Medical Corps, was praised by Prince Charles for having pulled an injured comrade to safety while under fire and giving him life-saving treatment. The Prince of Wales remarked: "Well done, it must have been a bad situation to get in."

The attack occurred at a checkpoint in the upper Gereshk Valley in Helmand, when an Afghan policeman opened fire on Lance Corporal Shaw and his team from a watchtower.

The medic returned fire and dragged his team commander, Lieutenant John Scarlett, out of the line of fire after he had been shot and injured.

After giving life-saving first-aid, Lance Corporal Shaw returned to the checkpoint to help 3 other colleagues who had been seriously injured in the fire-fight, although they later died from their injuries.

Lance Corporal Shaw said: "Nothing went through my head. It was all instinct. I had to get through to the casualties and then triage and treat, it’s all I could do. I don't remember much. People say it was 40 or 50 minutes, to me it was over like that."

The Military Cross is the third highest honour that can be bestowed upon military personnel and was given to Lance Corporal Shaw in recognition of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy on land.

The citation for his medal said: "Shaw's actions during that horrific attack were in the very finest traditions of the British Army."

On receiving his award, Lance Corporal Shaw said: "Today is a proud day but I was in a team in Afghanistan. If it was not for everyone doing their thing I would not be here. It is a team effort. I just see it as me doing my job."

The Heywood soldier had previously attended a ceremony at the Civic Centre in his hometown, where he was awarded the freedom of the borough by Rochdale Council for his bravery.

Councillor Alan McCarthy, who proposed the honour, said at the time:

"Lance Corporal Shaw M.C. is a true hero, and one the borough of Rochdale should be proud of. Despite being shot, this young and inexperienced soldier had the presence of mind to return fire and give directions to his commander. He then took the deliberate decision to enter the killing area to the aid of four of his colleagues who lay wounded. The borough has been shown in a positive light by his actions."


      July 2012

Heywood's finest awarded Military Cross

Captain John Scarlett and Lance Corporal Stephen Shaw. An Army officer who fought a Taliban insurgent despite his rifle jamming and being shot himself, and the lance corporal who rescued him, have both received the Military Cross.

Captain John Scarlett, from the Coldstream Guards, and Lance Corporal Stephen Shaw, from the Royal Army Medical Corps, were in a patrol that fell under fire after an apparent ambush at an Afghan police checkpoint in the Upper Gereshk Valley, Helmand Province, during July 2012.

As they were attacked by a gunman from a watchtower, 3 of their number was seriously wounded.

And as Captain Scarlett tried to rescue them his own rifle jammed, forcing him to use his pistol.

He was shot in the leg and body armour but dragged to safety by Lance Corporal Shaw, who gave him life-saving medical treatment, as well as later treating the other casualties.

Both men are awarded the Military Cross, given in recognition of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy on land.

Captain Scarlett, 26, from Dulwich, south London, said: "It's obviously an absolute honour to be awarded the MC, but in no way do I see this as an individual achievement.

"My initial reaction was to know what the other guys got and I was really pleased when I heard Lance Corporal Shaw had got it.

"I wasn't the only person whose life was saved by Lance Corporal Shaw, he does it a lot."

"It feels good, it's a great honour. But it was a team effort," added Lance Corporal Shaw, 24, from Heywood, Greater Manchester.

Captain Scarlett and Lance Corporal Shaw were on a routine patrol sent to the police checkpoint, which they found virtually empty with 2 of its 3 exits blocked, they said.

After waiting for nearly 40 minutes, they decided to leave but found themselves under fire by a gunman in a watchtower overlooking the compound.

Three soldiers were wounded, and Lance Corporal Shaw was shot through the boot and the daysack - escaping uninjured. Military Cross

Captain Scarlett ran back into the compound to help the casualties, but found himself under fire and his own rifle jammed.

"I had been shot in the leg, inside of my thigh and a couple of times in the chest plate," he said.

"I drew my pistol and started shooting at him with my pistol.

"There were bullets bouncing off everywhere.

"Lance Corporal Shaw ran inside and grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and pulled me out."

Captain Scarlett ordered one of his vehicles, a Mastiff, to ram one of the gates open, so the soldiers could retrieve their wounded colleagues.

"At that point, that's when I passed out. I was semi-conscious so I have vague memories of 1 of the guys coming forward and dragging the casualties out with Lance Corporal Shaw," he added.

Lance Corporal Shaw, who has kept his boot that was hit by a bullet, said: "I wasn't really thinking, I just ran in and pulled him out.

"My main priority was getting the casualties out and treating them."

The gunman was eventually captured, and the men airlifted to safety - but the three injured soldiers died.

In his citation, 26-year-old Captain Scarlett was said to have "displayed the very highest standards of leadership, courage, selfless commitment and gallantry".

​And for father-of-one Lance Corporal Shaw, his citation said: "Shaw's actions during that horrific attack were in the very finest traditions of the British Army, demonstrating conspicuous courage, commitment and professionalism."

Councillor Alan McCarthy, Heywood Township Chair and Rochdale Council Armed/Reserve Forces Champion said, "On behalf of the people of Heywood I would like congratulate Lance Corporal Shaw on his Military Cross which is awarded to all ranks of the RN, RM, Army, and RAF in recognition of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy on land.

"Lance Corporal Shaw is a true hero, Heywood are proud of him."

Stephen, aged 24, from Heywood, Greater Manchester, a former pupil at St Joseph's High School, added: "Bullets were pinging everywhere, once I pulled John outside, I strapped him up and asked if he was ready to crack on and he said yes.

"My main focus then was on getting to the casualties inside but it wasn’t possible initially. It is the worst feeling having men down and not being able to get to them."

Stephen's citation reads: "Shaw's actions during that horrific attack were in the very finest traditions of the British Army. Despite being shot through the boot and day sack, this young and inexperienced soldier had the presence of mind to return fire and give directions to his commander.

"He then took the deliberate decision to enter the killing area, where 4 of his colleagues lay wounded."


Contact

01706 924279

Phone: Monday-Friday 8am-6pm.

Out of hours emergencies​

Number One Riverside
Floor 2
Smith Street
Rochdale OL16 1XU