29 June 2024

Armed Forces Day

Who you’re saluting: Corporal Joshua Leakey, VC

A hero in Afghanistan

Dashing through bullets

In August 2013 Leakey, a Lance Corporal at the time, was part of a routine patrol with joint UK/US forces. They came under attack on the slope of a hill and were surrounded, and Leakey ran through heavy machine gun fire with complete disregard for his own safety to help a wounded officer.

Despite being the most junior commander in the area, Lance Corporal Leakey took control and started the officer’s evacuation, then ran back across the hill through a hail of bullets to get a suppressed machine gun back into action. Once it was running again, Lance Corporal Leakey overcame his own fatigue and faced enemy fire for a third time to fetch another machine gun, bring it up the hill and and return fire.

The rest of the force, inspired by Lance Corporal Leakey’s actions, and with more firepower now at their backs, began to fight back with renewed ferocity.

Corporal Josh Leakey VC
Corporal Josh Leakey VC

Corporal Leakey said that he had been aware of the hail of bullets all around him, “but you focus on the job at hand”. He said:

“If you spent your whole life wondering what was going to happen, what could happen to you, then you wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning, you wouldn’t get anything done.”

He insisted the award was for everyone in his regiment and battalion.

“It was a memorable patrol in that a lot happened, but that’s what it was, another patrol.”

“You don’t really think what could happen to yourself, you think ‘how is what I’m doing now going to improve the situation?’ It’s part of the very nature of being in the Army, and especially the Parachute Regiment, that we have to adapt to situations you don’t expect to happen”.